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Cornell University Library 
PG 3328.A3M47 

Letters of Fyodor Mchailovltch Dostoevs 

3 1924 026 648 547 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Letters of 

Fyodor Michailovitch 


to his Family and Friends 


Letters of 

Fyodor Michailovitch 

to his Family and Friends 



New York 
The Macmillan Company 



All riglits reserved 


In the German translator's^ preface to this volume 
it is pointed out that a complete collection of Dos- 
toevsky's letters does not yet exist. "The first volume 
of the first collected edition of Dostoevsky's works 
(St. Petersburg, 1873) contains only a selection, which 
is usually lacking in the later editions." Herr Elias- 
berg goes on to tell us that " a series of letters which 
were to have been included in the present work was 
at the last moment withdrawn by the novelist's 
widow ; the corrected proofs of these are to be pre- 
served in a sealed portfolio at the Dostoevsky Museum 
in Moscow." 

The present volume derives chiefly from the book 
by Tchechichin : " Dostoevsky in the Reminiscences 
of his Contemporaries, and in his Letters and 
Memoranda" (Moscow, 1912). The letters here 
numbered XXXVIII., XLI V., L., LVI., and LVIII. 
are lacking in Tchechichin's book, and were taken 
from a Russian monthly journal, Rousskaya Starina. 
Those numbered XXXIX., XL VI., XL VIII., and 
LIX., which are incompletely given by Tchechichin, 
are here given in full. 

From Tchechichin's work were also taken a number 

1 Herr Alexander Eliasberg (R. Piper and Co., Munich). 



of notes, as well as the reminiscences of Dostoevsky 
by his contemporaries, which here form an Appendix. 

The present text, therefore, while it contains much 
that is relatively "inedited," yet cannot pretend to 
full completeness. On comparing it with a French 
translation of some of the letters, issued by the 
Societe du Mercure de France in 1908, it is seen to 
be a good deal the more judiciously edited of the 
two — ^the German translator has pared away many 
repetitions, much irrelevant and uninteresting matter, 
while he has used material of the highest biographical 
value which the French editor either unaccountably 
omitted, or, it may be, had not at disposal. Of such 
are the letters enumerated above ; and, more than all, 
the peculiarly interesting passage in Letter XXXIV., 
which relates Dostoevsky's historic quarrel with 

A word about the punctuation. It has been, so far 
as was thought at all feasible, left as Dostoevsky 
offered it. Like Byron, he " did not know a comma ; 
at least, where to put one" — or rather, in Dostoevsky's 
case, where not to put one, for his lavish use of the 
less important and lucid sign is very remarkable. 
Here and there, this predilection has been departed 
from by me, but only when it too deeply obscured 
the sense ; elsewhere, since even punctuation has its 
value for the student of character, Dostoevsky's 
" system " is retained in all its chaotic originahty. 

E. C. M. 


Translator's Preface 

Chronological Table of Dostoevsry's Life , 




1. ■ 

2. ' 





fohis Father: May 10, 

1838 . 


?o his Brother Michael : 

August 9, 1838. 


)) >t 

October 31, 1838 


3> IJ 

January 1, 1840 


33 31 

September 30, 1844 . 


33 33 

March 24, 1845 


33 33 

May 4, 1 845 . 


33 33 

October 8, 1845 


33 33 

November l6, 1845 


33 33 

February 1, 1846 


33 33 

April 1, 1846 . 


3) 33 

September 17, 1846 . 


33 33 

Undated, 1846 


33 33 

November 26, 1846 


33 33 

Undated, 1847 


33 33 

Undated, 1847 


33 31 

July 18, 1849 . 


33 33 

August 27, 1849 

. 49 

33 33 

September 14, 1849 

. 51 

33 33 

December 22, 1849 

. 53 

33 33 

February 22, 1854 


To Mme. N. D. Fonvisin: Beginning of March, 1854 

. 69 

To Mme. Maria Dmitry 

evna Issayev : June 4, 1855 

. 73 

To Mme. Praskovya Yegorovna Annenkov: October 18 



. 80 

To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov: January 18, 


. 83 


26. To General E. I. Totleben: March 24, 1856 

27. To Baron A. E. Vrangel : April 13, 1856 

28. To his Brother Michael : May 31, 1858 . 

29. „ „ May 9, 1859 • 

30. To Frau Stackenschneider : May 3, I860 

31. To Mme. V. D. Constantine : September 1, 1862 

32. To N. N, Strachov: September 18 [30], 1863 . 

33. To A. P. Milyukov: June, 1866 . 

34. To ApoUon Maikov: August l6 [28], 1867 

35. To his Niece Sofia Alexandroma : September 29 [Octo- 

ber 11], 1867 ..... 

36. To ApoUon Maikov: October 9 [21], 1867 

37. To P. A. Issayev : October 10 [22], 1867 

38. To his Sister Vera, and his Brother-in-Law, Alexander 

Pavlovitch Ivanov : January 1 [13], 1868 

39. To his Niece Sofia Alexandrovna : January 1 [13], 1868 

40. To P. A. Issayev : February 19 [March 3], 1868 

41. To Apollon Maikov : May 18 [30], 1868 

42. „ „ June 10 [22], 1868 

43. „ „ October 7 [19], 1868 

44. To his Niece : October 26 [November 7], 1868 . 

45. To Apollon Maikov: December 11 [23], 1868 . 

46. To his Niece: January 25 [February 6], 1869 

47. To N. N. Strachov: February 26 [March 10], 1869 

48. To his Niece : March 8 [20], 1869 

49. To N. N. Strachov : March 18 [30], 1869 

50. To his Niece : August 29 [September 10], 1869 . 

51. To Apollon Maikov : October l6 [28], 1869 

52. „ „ February 12 [24], 1870 

53. To N. N. Strachov: February 26 [March 10], 1870 

54. „ „ March 24 [April 5], 1870 . 

55. To Apollon Maikov : March 25 [April 6], 1870 . 

56. To his Sister Vera, and his Niece : May 7 [19], 1870 

57. To N. N. Strachov: June 11 [23], 1870 . 

58. To his Niece: July 2 [14], 1870 . 

59. „ August 17 [29], 1870 

60. To N. N. Strachov : October 9 [21], 1870 

61. To Apollon Maikov : December 15 [27], 1870 . 

62. „ „ December SO [January 1 1], 1 870-7 1 

63. „ „ March 2 [14], 1871 




64. To N, N. Strachov : April 23 [May 5], 1871 . . 215 

65. „ „ May 18 [30], 1871 . . .218 

66. To Mme. Ch. D. Altschevsky: April 9, 1876 . . 222 

67. To Vsevolod Solovyov : July, 1876 . . .227 

68. To Mile. Gerassimov : March 7, 1877 . . .229 

69. To A. P. N. : May 19, 1877 . . . .231 

70. To N. L. Osmidov: February, 1878 . .233 

71. To a Mother: March 27, 1878 . . . .235 

72. To a Group of Moscow Students : April 18, 1878 . 239 

73. To Mile. N. N. : April 11, 1880 . . . .247 

74. To Frau E. A. Stackenschneider : July 17, 1880 . 250 

75. To N. L. Osmidov: August 18, 1880 . . .253 

76. To I. S. Aksakov : August 28, 1880 . . .255 

77. To Dr. A. F. Blagonravov : December 19, 1880 . . 257 


By D. V. Grigorovitch (1837-1846) . . . .261 

By A. P. Milyukov (1848-1849) . • .271 

By P. K. Martyanov (1850-1854) . . . .282 

By Baron Alexander Vrangel (18 54-1865) . .289 

By Sophie Kovalevsky (1866). . . . .321 


R. P. Pobyedonoszev to I. S. Aksakov 

I. S. Aksakov to R. P. Pobyedonoszev 

Turgenev to Slutchevsky 
Polonsky . 
Mme. Milyutin 
Saltykov (1875) 
Saltykov (1882) 

Tolstoy to A. N. Strachov 



Portrait of Dostoevsky, Petersburg, 1879 

Dostoevsky's Birthplace (the Workhouse Hospital at Moscow) 

Dostoevsky's Father . 

Michael Dostoevsky . 

Dostoevsky's Mother . 

Dostoevsky at Semipalatinsk (1858) in Ensign's Uniform 

F. M. Dostoevsky 

Facsimile of "The Possessed," Part III., beginning of 

Chapter 1; . . . 

Dostoevsky, Petersburg, 1876 
Dostoevsky's Study in Petersburg 
Portrait of Dostoevsky, Petersburg, 1879 
Dostoevsky, Moscow, 1880 
Dostoevsky's Handwriting in 1838 (Letter to his Brother 

Michael, August 9) 
Dostoevsky, Moscow, 1863 
Dostoevsky on his Death-Bed, January 29, 1881 
The Widow and Children of Dostoevsky at his Grave in 

Petersburg ...... 












The illustrations are from photographs taken, by permission, from the 

originals in the Moscow Museum. 



1821. "In the parish of St. Peter and Paul at Moscow was born on 
October 30 of the year 1821, in the dwelling-house of the 
Workhouse Hospital, to Staff- Physician Michail Andreyevitch 
Dostoevsky, a male child, who was named Fyodor. Baptised 
on November 4." 

1831. Dostoevsky's parents purchase a country-house in the Tula 
Government, where the family henceforth spends the summer. 

1834. Dostoevsky enters the boys' school of L. J. Tchermak at 

1836. Great influence of the Literature-master upon the boys. 
Enthusiasm for Pushkin. 

1837. On February 27, Maria Fyodorovna Dostoevsky, his mother, 
dies. Early in the year, Fyodor Dostoevsky goes with his 
elder brother Michael to Petersburg, and enters the Prepara- 
tory School of K. F. Kostomarov. In the autumn, he is 
admitted to the Principal College of Engineering. 

1837-43. Study at the College of Engineering. 

1838. Summer in camp. Enthusiasm for Balzac, Hugo, E. T. A. 
Hoffmann. In the autumn, failure in the examinations ; is not 
promoted. In the winter, friendly relations with Schidlovsky 
and Berechetzky. Interest in Schiller. 

1839. Death of his father, Michail Andreyevitch Dostoevsky. 

1840. November 29: Promotion to non-commissioned officer's rank. 
December 27 : To ensign's. 

1841. Dramatic efforts, "Maria Stuart" and "Boris Godounov." 
(They have not come down to us.) August 5 : Dostoevsky 
undergoes the examination for promotion to commissioned 
rank, and is promoted to be Field-Engineer's Ensign, on the 
recommendation of the College of Engineering. 

1842. Promotion to Lieutenant's rank. 

1843. August 12: Leaves the College. August 23: Obtains an 
appointment in the Department of Engineering. 


1 844. At the end of the preceding and in the beginning of this 
year, Dostoevsky is occupied in translating Balzac's " Eugenie 
Grandet." During the year he reads and translates works by 
George Sand and Sue. 

Works at " Poor Folk." 

Project for a drama (Letter of September 30, 1844). 

October 1 9 : Dostoevsky is by Royal permission discharged 
with the rank of First-Lieutenant "on account of illness." 

December 17 : He is struck ofiF the lists of the Corps of 
Military Engineers. 

1845. In the beginning of May, the novel " Poor Folk " is finished. 
Nekrassov and Grigorovitch pay the midnight visit after 

reading " Poor Folk." 

Intercourse with Bielinsky. In the summer he goes to his 
brother Michael at Reval. 

November 15 : Letter to his brother with news of his first 
successes in literary circles. 

At the end of the year, plans for the satirical journal, 

" Novel in Nine Letters." 

1846. January 15 : Nekrassov's Petersburg Almanac appears, with 
Dostoevsky's first book, " Poor Folk." 

Bielinsky's article on " Poor Folk " in the Otetschedvennia 

February 1 : The story of " The Double " (" Goliadkin ") 
appears in the Otetschestvennia Zapiski. 

" The Whiskers that were Shaved OflF" and the " Story of 
the Abolished Public Offices." (Neither work has come down 
to us.) 

"Mr. Prochartschin " ( O.Z., No. 10). 

In the summer, at Reval with his brother. 

In the autumn, Dostoevsky thinks of issuing his collected 
tales in volume form. 

At the end of the year come misunderstandings, and a 
breach with the editorial staff of the Sovremennik. 

1847. The "Novel in Nine Letters" is published in the Sovre- 
menmk, and " The Mistress of the Inn " in the Otetschestvennia 

" Poor Folk " appears in book form. 

1848. The February Revolution in Paris. 

Political groups, such as those around Petraehevsky, form in 

" The Stranger- Woman " (O.Z., No 1) 
" A Weak Heatt " (O.Z., No. 2). 
" Christmas and Wedding " (O.Z., No 10) 
« Bright Nights " {O.Z., No. l6). 
"The Jealous Husband" {O.Z., No. 12). 


1849. "Netotchka Nesvanova" (O.Z., Nos. 1-2, 5-6). 

In March, Dostoevsky reads aloud [a revolutionary letter 
from Bielinsky to Gogol at Petrachevsky's rooms].^ 

On April 23, Dostoevsky, together with other members of 
the Petrachevsky circle, is arrested, and imprisoned in the 
Petropaulovsky Fortress. [He was accused of " having taken 
part in conversations about the severity of the Censorship ; of 
having read, at a meeting in March, 1849, Bielinsky's revolu- 
tionary letter to Gogol ; of having again read it at Dourov's 
rooms, and of having given it to Monbelli to copy ; of having 
listened at Dourov's to the reading of various articles ; of 
having knowledge of the plan to establish a clandestine 
printing-press," etc.]i 

December 19 : Dostoevsky is condemned to degradation from 
military rank, and imprisonment. 

December 22 : Dostoevsky, and all the Petrachevsky group, 
hear read over them, first, the death-sentence, and then the 
commuted sentence of hard labour in the Siberian prisons. 

December 24-25 : On this night Dostoevsky is put in irons, 
and transported from Petersburg to Siberia. 

1850. January 11 : Arrival at Tobolsk. Meeting with the wives of 
the Decembrists. 

January 17 : Continues journey to Omsk. 

1850-54. Serves his sentence in the prison at Omsk. 

1854. February 15 : Completion of sentence. 

February 22 : Letter to his brother with description of his 
life in the prison. 

March 2 : Dostoevsky is enrolled as private in the 7th 
Siberian Regiment of the Line. 

In end of March, arrives at Semipalatinsk. 

In May, writes his poem on the European incidents of 1854. 

November 21 : Baron Vrangel arrives at Semipalatinsk. 

1855. February 19: The Tsar Alexander II. ascends the throne. 
Dostoevsky writes a poem on the death of Nicholas I. and the 
accession of Alexander II. (It has not come down to us.) 
He begins "The House of the Dead." 

1856. January 15 : Promotion to non-commissioned rank. 

March 24 : Letter to General Totleben, requesting his inter- 
cession with the Tsar. 

October 1 : By Imperial command, he is promoted to be 
Ensign in the same battalion. 

1 857. February 6 : Dostoevsky's betrothal to the widowed Maria 
Dmitryevna Issayev takes place at Kusnezk. 

* Translator's amplification. 


April 18 : Imperial minute to the Commanded t>f t_he 
Siberian Army Corps to the effect that Dostoevsky and his 
legal heirs regain the ancient title of nobility, though the con- 
fiscated property is not to be restored. Dostoevsky first hears 
of this in May. 

At the end of the year, Dostoevsky sends in a petition, on 
discharge, begging to be allowed to live in Moscow. 

"the Little Hero" (O.Z., No. 8). 

1859. March 18 : Discharged from military servite with the rank 
of Lieutenant. Iridicdtibh of the town of Tvfer as a suitable 
place of abode. 

" Uncle's Dream " (Roussky Viestnilc, No. 3). 

July 2 : Departure from Semipalatinsk. 

Autumri in Tver. Petitioli to the Tsar, that he may be 
allowed to live freely in all the towns of the Empire. Work 
at " The Hbuse of the Dead." 

" Stepanchikovo Village" {O.Z., Nos. 11-12). 

At the end of Novembtei-, permission to leave Tvei". Leaves 
for tetfersburg. 

1860. Collected Edition of Works. Two volumes. Moscow: 

N. A. Osnovsky. 

1861. Collaboration on the journal Vremya. 

Publication of " Injury and Insult " in that journal and in 
book form. 

1861-62. Publication of " The House of the Dead" {Vremya, 1861, 
^bs. i, 9-11 ; and 1862, Nos. 1-3, 5, 12). 
"A Silly Story" {Vremya, No. 11). 

1 862. Two editions in book form of " The House of the Dead." 
June 7 : Departure for abroad. 

Stays in Paris, London (meeting with Herzen), and Geneva. 

1 863. " Wititer Notes on Summer Impressions " {Vremya, tios. 2-3)- 
In May, suppression of the Vremyaj in consequence of an 

article by Strachov on the Polish Question. 

During the summer, travel in foreign lands. Stay in Rome. 
Plan for " The Gambler." 

Wife's illness during the winter. 

1864-65. Direction of The Epoch, which took the place of the 


1864.- March 24 : Appears the first number of The Epoch. " From 
the Darkness of the Great City" {Epoch, Nos. 1-2 and 4). 
April l6 : Death of his wife. 
June 10 : Death of his brother Michael. 
December 25 : Death of his friend and collaborator, ApoUon 


1865. " An Unusual Occurrence " {Epoch, No. 2). 

At the end of July, goes abroad. Begins the novel 
" Rodion Raskolnikov " (« Crime and Punishment "). 
Autumn in Wiesbaden. 

October : Visit to Baron Vrangel at Copenhagen. 
November : Return to Russia. Sale of his author's rights to 
V the publisher Stellovsky. 

1865-66. First Collected Edition, in three volumes. Petersburg: 

Publication of " Rodion Raskolnikov" ("Crime and Punish- 
ment") in the Roussky Viestnik (Nos. 1-2, 4, 6, 8, 11-12) and in 
book form. 

Summer at Lublin, near Moscow. 

End of the year, at work on " The Gambler." Intercourse 
with the stenographer Anna Grigorevna Snitkin. 

1867. February 15 : Marriage to A. G. Snitkin. 

1867-71. Life abroad. 

1867. April 14 : Goes abroad. Two months in Dresden. Article 
on Bielinsky (not preserved). 

August l6 : Letter to Apollon Maikov on the quarrel with 
Turgenev, and Dostoevsky's losses at roulette. 

Plan for the " Diary of a Writer." (Letter to his niece of 
September 29.) ^ 

At the end of the year, begins " The Idiot." 

Third edition of " The House of the Dead " ; second and 
third editions of " Crime and Punishment." 

1868. Publication of "The Idiot" in the Roussky Viestnik (Nos. 1, 
2, 4-12) and in book form. 

Summer in Switzerland and Italy. 

Idea of a novel on Atheism (prototype of " The Brothers 
Karamazov"). Letters about this to Maikov and his niece. 

1869. Beginning of the year, in Florence. Connection with the 
new journal Sarya, and lively interest in Danilevsky's essay on 
" Russia and Europe." 

1870. "The Permanent Husband" {Sarya, Nos. 1, 2). Beginning 
of " The Possessed." Fourth edition of " Crime and Punish- 

1871-72. Publication of "The Possessed" {Roussky Viestnik, 1871, 
Nos. 1-2,4, 7, 9-12; and 1872, Nos. 11-12). 

1871. July 8 : Return from abroad to Petersburg. 

1 872. Project of a trip to the East. 

" The Permanent Husband " in book form. 


1873. Joins editorial staff of Grajdanin {The Citizen), and publishes 
the "Diary of a Writer" (first sixteen chapters) and his 
" Survey of Foreign Occurrences," 

" The Possessed " in book form. 

1874. At the end of March, arrest for infraction of the Censorship 

Autumn and winter, at Staraya-Roussa. Second edition of 
" The Idiot." 

Beginning of the novel, " The Hobbledehoy." 

1875. "The Hobbledehoy" {Otetschestvennia Zapiski, Nos. 1,2,4, 
5, 9, 11, 12), and in book form. 

Fourth edition of " The House of the Dead." 
Summer at Ems. 

1876-77. " Diary of a Writer." 

1876. Summer at Ems. 

Article (in the June number of the Diary) on the Balkan 
Question, and Dostoevsky's political creed. 
" The Hobbledehoy " in book form. 

'1877. "The Little Girl" (in the Supplement to Grajdanin). 
Summer in the Kursk Government. 
December 24 : " Memento for My Whole Life." 

1878. In the summer, begins "The Brothers Karamazov." 
Fourth edition of " Crime and Punishment." 

1879-80. Appearance of "The Brothers Karamazov" (Roussh) 
Viestnik, 1879, Nos. 1, 2, 4-6, 8-11 ; 1880, Nos. 1, 4, 7-11), and 
in book form. 

1879- Second edition of the "Diary of a Writer" from the year 

Fifth edition of " Injury and Insult." 

In June, goes with Vladimir Solovyov to the monastery at 

1880. May 25 : Banquet of Moscow writers and journalists in 
Dostoevsky's honour. 

June 6 and 7 : Festivities at Moscow in connection with the 
unveiling of the Pushkin Memorial. 

June 8 : Dostoevsky's speech on Pushkin at the meeting of 
the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature. Takes part in 
the " Pushkin Evenings " got up by the Literary Fund. 

1881. January 28 : At 8.38 o'clock p.m. Dostoevsky dies. 
January 31 : Public burial in the Cemetery of the Alexander 

Nevsky Monastery at Petersburg. 

Letters of 

Fyodor Michailovitch 

to his Family and Friends 


To his Father 

My dear good Father, ^''^ ^°' '^^^• 

Can you really think that your son is asking 
too much when he applies to you for an allowance ? 
God be my witness that not for self-interest, nor 
even in actual extremest need, could I ever wish to 
despoil you in any way. How bitter it is to have to 
ask my flesh and blood a favour which so heavily 
oppresses them ! 1 have my own head, my own hands. 
Were I but free and independent, I should never 
have asked you for so much as a kopeck — I should 
have inured myself to the bitterest poverty. 1 
should have been ashamed to write from my very 
death-bed, asking for support. As things are, I can 
only console you with promises for the future ; how- 
ever, that future is no longer a distant one, and time 
will convince you of its reality. 

At present I beg you, dearest Papa, to reflect that 
in the literal sense of the word — I serve. I must, 
whether 1 wish it or not, conform to the obligations 
of my immediate environment. Why should I set 
up as an exception ? Such exceptional attitudes, 
moreover, are often attended by the greatest un- 



pleasantnesses. You ^ will readily understand this, 
dear Papa. You have mixed enough with men to do 
that. And therefore consider, please, the following 
points : Life in camp, for every student of the Mihtary 
Academy, demands at least forty roubles. (I write 
this, because I am addressing my father.) In that 
sum are not included such necessities as tea, sugar, 
etc. Yet aU those things I must have as well — 
assuredly not only as comforts, but as sheer indis- 
pensables. When one has to sleep in a canvas tent 
during damp and rain, or when, in such weather, one 
returns weary and chilled from practice, one may 
easily fall ill for want of tea, as I have frequently 
experienced in former years at these times. But I 
want to consider your difficulties, and so I will give 
up tea altogether, and ask you only for the barest 
necessary of all— sixteen roubles for two pairs of 
ordinary boots. Again : I must keep my things, such 
as books, footgear, writing materials, paper, etc., 
somewhere or other. I need for that a trunk, for in 
camp there is no kind of shelter but the tents. Our 
beds are bundles of straw covered with sheets. Now 
I ask you where, without a trunk, am I to keep my 
things ? You must know that the Treasury does not 
care in the least whether I have one or not. For the 
exams will soon be over, and then I shall need no 
books ; and as it is supposed to look after my uniform, 
I ought not to require boots, etc. But how can I 
pass the time without books? and the boots with 
which we are supplied are so bad that three pairs 
scarcely see one through six months, even in the town. 

[Here follows a further catalogue of necessary 

From your last remittance I have laid by fifteen 


roubles. So you see, dear Papa, that I need at least 
twenty-five more. We break up camp in the begin- 
ning of June. If you will stand by your son in his 
bitter need, send him this money by the first of June. 
I dare not insist upon my petition : I am not asking 
too much, but my gratitude will be boundless. 


2o his Brother Michael 


August 9, 1838. 

[The letter begins with explanations of why 
Dostoevsky has not written to his brother for so 
long : he has not had a kopeck.] 

It is true that I am idle — very idle. But what will 
become of me, if everlasting idleness is to be my only 
attitude towards life ? I don't know if my gloomy 
mood will ever leave me. And to think that such 
a state of mind is allotted to man alone — the atmo- 
sphere of his soul seems compounded of a mixture 
of the heavenly and the earthly. What an unnatural 
product, then, is he, since the law of spiritual nature 
is in him violated. . . . This earth seems to me a 
purgatory for divine spirits who have been assailed 
by sinful thoughts. I feel that our world has become 
one immense Negative, and that everything noble, 
beautiful, and divine, has turned itself into a satire. 
If in this picture there occurs an individual who 
neither in idea nor effect harmonizes with the whole — 
who is, in a word, an entirely unrelated figure — what 
must happen to the picture ? It is destroyed, and 
can no longer endure. 

Yet how terrible it is to perceive only the coarse 


veil under which the All doth languish ! To know 
that one single effort of the will would suffice to 
demohsh that veil and become one with eternity— to 
know all this, and still live on like the last and least 
of creatures. . . . How terrible ! How petty is man ! 
Hamlet ! Hamlet ! When I think of his moving 
wild speech, in which resounds the groaning of the 
whole numbed universe, there breaks from my soul 
not one reproach, not one sigh. . . . That soul is 
then so utterly oppressed by woe that it fears to 
grasp the woe entire, lest so it lacerate itself. Pascal 
once said : He who protests against philosophy is 
himself a philosopher. A poor sort of system ! 

But I have talked enough nonsense. Of your 
letters I have had only two, besides the last of all. 
Now, brother, you complain of your poverty. I am 
not rich either. But you will hardly believe that 
when we broke up camp I had not a kopeck. On 
the way I caught cold (it rained the whole day and 
we had no shelter), was sick with hunger as well, and 
had no money to moisten my throat with so much as 
a sip of tea. I got well in time, but I had suffered 
the direst need in camp, till at last the money came 
from Papa. 1 paid my debts, and spent the rest. 

[Dostoevsky enlarges further on his brother's situa- 
lion and his own financial difficulties.] 

However, it is time to speak of other things. You 
plume yourself on the number of books you have 
read. . . . But don't please imagine that I envy you 
that. At Peterhof I read at least as many as 
you have. The whole of Hoffmann in Russian and 
German (that is, " Kater Murr," which hasn't yet been 
translated), and nearly all Balzac. (Balzac is great 1 

^T. 17] BALZAC - 5 

His characters are the creations of an all-embracing 
intelligence. Not the spirit of the age, but whole 
millenniums, with all their strivings, have worked 
towards such development and liberation in the soul 
of man.) Besides all these, I read Goethe's " Faust " 
and his shorter poems, Polevois' History, " Ugolino " 
and " Undine " (I'll write at length about " Ugolino " 
some other time), and, finally, Victor Hugo, except 
" Cromwell " and " Hernani." Farewell. Write to 
me, please, as often as you possibly can, for your 
letters are a joy and solace. Answer this at once. 
I shall expect your reply in twelve days at the very 
latest. Do write, that I may not utterly languish. 

Thy brother, 


I have a new plan : to go mad. That's the way : 
for people to lose their heads, and then be cured and 
brought back to reason ! If you've read all Hoff- 
mann, you'll surely remember Alban. How do you 
like him ? It is terrible to watch a man who has 
the Incomprehensible within his grasp, does not 
know what to do with it, and sits playing with a 
toy called God 1 


To his Brother Michael 


October SI, 1838. 

How long since I've written to you, dear brother ! 
That hateful examination— it prevented me from 
writing to you and Papa, and from looking up 
I. N. Schidlovsky.^ And what came of it all? I 

* I. Nikolay Schidlovsky, a Treasury official, who wrote high- 
flown poems of abstract-ideal tendency. He later ruined himself 
by diink. 


have not yet been promoted. O horror! to live 
another virhole year in this misery ! I should not 
have been so furious did I not know that I am the 
victim of the sheerest baseness. The failure would 
not have worried me so very much, if our poor 
father's tears had not burned into my soul. I had not 
hitherto known the sensation of wounded vanity. 
If such a feeling had got hold of me, I might well 
have blushed for myself. . . . But now you must 
know that I should like to crush the whole world at 
one blow. ... I lost so much time before the 
examination, and was ill and miserable besides ; but 
underwent it in the fullest and most literal sense of 
the word, and yet have failed. ... It is the decree 
of the Professor of Algebra, to whom, in the course 
of the year, I had been somewhat cheeky, and who 
was base enough to remind me of it to-day, while 
ostensibly explaining to me the reason for my failure. 
Out of ten full marks I got an average of nine and a 
half, and yet I'm left. . . , But hang it all, if I 
must suffer, I will. ... I'll waste no more paper on 
this topic, for I so seldom have an opportunity to 
talk with you. 

My friend, you philosophize like a poet. And just 
because the soul cannot be for ever in a state of. 
exaltation, your philosophy is not true and not just. 
To know more, one must feel less, and vice versa. 
Your judgment is feather-headed — it is a dehrium of 
the heart. What do you mean precisely by the 
word know ? Nature, the soul, love, and God, one 
recognizes through the heart, and not through the 
reason. Were we spirits, we could dwell in that 
region of ideas over which our souls hover, seeking 
the solution. But we are earth-born beings, and can 


only guess at the Idea — not grasp it by all sides at < 
once. The guide for our intelligences through the 
temporary illusion into the innermost centre of the 
soul is called Reason. Now, Reason is a material 
capacity, while the soul or spirit lives on the 
thoughts which are whispered by the heart. 
Thought is born in the soul. Reason is a tool, a 
machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire. When 
human reason (which would demand a chapter for 
itself) penetrates into the domain of knowledge, it 
works independently of the feeling, and consequently 
of the heart. But when our aim is the understanding 
of love or of nature, we march towards the very 
citadel of the heart. I don't want to vex you, but I 
do want to say that I don't share your views on 
poetry or philosophy. Philosophy cannot be regarded 
as a mere equation where nature is the unknown 
quantity ! Remark that the poet, in the moment of 
inspiration, comprehends God, and consequently does 
the philosopher's work. Consequently poetic inspira- 
is nothing less than philosophical inspiration. Conse- 
quently philosophy is nothing but poetry, a higher 
degree of poetry ! It is odd that you reason quite in 
the sense of our contemporary philosophy. What a 
lot of crazy systems have been born of late in the 
cleverest and most ardent brains! To get a right 
result from this motley troop one would have to 
subject them all to a mathematical formula. And 
yet they are the " laws " of our contemporary philo- 
sophy ! I have jabbered enough. And if I look 
upon your flabby system as impossible, I think it 
quite likely that my objections are no less flabby, so 
I won't bother you with any more of them. 

Brother, it is so sad to Uve without hope I When 


I look forward I shudder at the future. I move in a 
cold arctic atmosphere, wherein no sunlight ever 
pierces. For a long time I have not had a single 
outbreak of inspiration. . . . Hence I feel as the 
Prisoner of Chillon felt after his brother's death. 
The Paradise-bird of poetry will never, never visit 
me again — ^never again warm my frozen soul. You 
say that I am reserved ; but all my former dreams 
have long since forsaken me, and from those glorious 
arabesques that I once could fashion all the gilding 
has disappeared. The thoughts that used to kindle 
my soul and heart have lost their glow and ardency ; 
or else my heart is numbed, or else. ... I am 
afraid to go on with that sentence. I won't admit 
that all the past was a dream, a bright golden dream. 
Brother, I have read your poem. It urged some 
tears from my soul, and lulled it for a while by the 
spell of memories. You say that you have an idea 
for a drama. I am glad of that. Write your drama, 
then. If you had not these last crumbs from the 
Elysian feast, what would be left you in hfe ? I am 
so sorry that these last few weeks I have not been 
able to look up Ivan Nikolayevitch (Schidlovsky) ; 
I was iU. Now listen. I think that the poet's in- 
spiration is increased by success. Byron was an 
egoist ; his longing for fame was petty. But the 
mere thought that through one's inspiration there 
will one day lift itself from the dust to heaven's 
heights some noble, beautiful human soul ; the 
thought that those lines over which one has wept 
are consecrated as by a heavenly rite through one's 
inspiration, and that over them the coming genera- 
tions will weep in echo . . . that thought, I am 
convinced, has come to many a poet in the very 



moment of his highest creative rapture. But the 
shouting of the mob is empty and vain. There occur 
to me those lines of Pushkin, where he describes the 
mob and the poet : 

" So let the foolish crowd, thy work despising, scream, 
And spit upon the shrine where burns thy fire supreme, 
Let them in childish arrogance thy tripod set a-tremble. . . ." 

Wonderful, isn't it ? Farewell. 

Your friend and brother, 


By the way, do tell me what is the leading idea 
in Ch§,teaubriand's work, " G^nie du Christianisme." 
I read lately in Ssyn Otetschestva an attack by 
the critic Nisard on Victor Hugo. How little the 
French esteem him ! How low does Nisard rate 
his dramas and romances I They are unfair to him ; 
and Nisard (though he is so intelligent) talks non- 
sense. Tell me, too, the leading motive of your 
drama ; I am sure it is fine. 

I pity our poor father I He has such a remarkable 
character. What trouble he has had. It is so bitter 
that I can do nothing to console him I But, do you 
know. Papa is wholly a stranger in the world. He 
has lived in it now for fifty years, and yet he has the 
same opinions of mankind that he had thirty years 
ago. What sublime innocence 1 Yet the world has 
disappointed him, and I believe that that is the 
destiny of us all. Farewell. 



To his Brother Michael 


January 1, 1840. 

I thank you from my heart, good brother, for your 
dear letter. I am certainly quite a different sort of 
person from you; you could never imagine how 
delightfully my heart thrills when they bring me a 
letter from you, and I have invented a new sort of 
enjoyment : I put myself on the rack. I take your 
letter in my hand, turn it about for some minutes, 
feel it to see whether it's long, and when I've satiated 
myself with the sealed envelope, I put it in my 
pocket. You'd never guess what a pleasant state of 
heart and soul I thus procure for myself. I often 
wait a quarter of an hour ; at last I fall greedily upon 
the packet, unseal it, and devour your lines — your 
dear lines I Countless feelings awake in my heart 
while I read your letter. So many tender and pain- 
ful, sweet and bitter, emotions crowd into my soul — 
yes, dear brother, there are painful and bitter ones. 
You cannot dream how bitter it is for me when 
people don't understand me, when they mistake what 
I say, and see it in the wrong light. After I had ; 
read your last letter, I was quite enragi because you 
were][^not near me ; I saw the dearest dreams of my 
heart, my most sacred principles, which I have won 
by hard experience, wholly distorted, mutilated, de- 
formed. You said to me yourself: " Do write to me, 
contradict me, dispute with me." You anticipated 
some profit therefrom. Dear brother, it has not been 
of the least use 1 The only thing that you have got 


rom it is, that in your egoism (we are all egoists, for 
;hat matter) you have formed just such an opinion 
)f me, my views, ideas, and peculiarities, as happens 
;o suit yourself. And that is an extremely insulting 
)ne ! No — polemics in intimate letters are a subtle 
Doison. How will it be now, when we see one an- 
)ther again ? I believe that all this will be subject 
tor endless contention. But enough of it. 

Now for your verses — hear me yet again, dear 
3rother ! I believe that in human life are infinite 
pain and infinite joy. In the poet's life spring thorns 
md roses. The lyric is like the poet's shadow, always 
(vith him, for he is an articulate creature. Your lyric 
poems are charming : " The Walk," " The Morning," 
' Visions of the Mother," " Roses," " The Horse of 
Phoebus " — these and many others are lovely. They 
are all like a vital piece of news from you — and a 
piece of news that moves me profoundly. For in those 
iays I could understand you so well ; and they are 
months which have stamped themselves deeply in my 
consciousness. How many strange and wondrous 
things had I just then lived through ! It is a long 
story, and I shall never tell it to anyone. 

When I last met Schidlovsky I took a walk with 
him in Ekaterinhof What an amazing talk we had 
that evening ! We were recaUing the past winter, 
when we talked much of Homer, Shakespeare, 
Schiller, and Hoffmann — particularly Hoffmann. 
We spoke of ourselves also, of the future, and of 
you, my dear fellow. But he has been away a long 
time now, and I have no news of him. Is he still 
alive even ? For his health was very bad. So do 
write to him ! 

All through last winter I was in a strangely exalted 


mood. Intercourse with Schidlovsky had procured 
me many hours of fuller life, though that was not 
the only reason for my inspired state. You were, 
perhaps, hurt with me, and may even be so still, 
because I did not write to you at that time. Stupid 
service-matters were the hindrance. I must con- 
fess to you, my dear fellow, that though I have 
always loved you, it was for your verses, for the 
poetry of your hfe, for your sufferings . . . that was 
all. It was neither brother-love nor comrade-love. 
For I had with me at that time a friend, a man, 
whom I did love so. You said once, brother, that I 
had not read Schiller. You are mistaken. I have 
him by heart, I have spoken his speech and dreamed 
his dreams ; and I believe that it was a peculiarly 
good stroke of luck that made me acquainted with 
the great poet in that special period of my life. I 
could never have learnt to know Schiller so well as 
precisely in those days. When I read Schiller with 
him, I saw in him the noble and fiery Don Carlos^ 
the Marquis Posa, and Mortimer. That friendship « 
was of great value to me, and has caused me great 
pain. But I desire to keep silence about it for ever. 
The name of Schiller is for me a beloved and intimate 
password, which awakens countless memories and 
dreams. Those memories are bitter, and that is why 
I have always avoided talking with you about Schiller 
and the impressions which I owe to him. Even to 
hear his name sets my heart aching. 

I meant to answer other of your reproaches, and 
show you that you have misunderstood me. About 
other things besides I wanted to speak ; but as I 
write this letter, so many sweet remembrances and 
dreams come over me that I can talk of nothing else. 


)nly one reproach will I refer to — namely, that those 
[reat poets whom, according to you, I do not 
:now at all, I have nevertheless sought to compare 
ilosely with one another. I never drew such a 
)araUel as one between Pushkin and Schiller. I 
:an't imagine how you came to think so ; pray cite 
ne the passage in my letter ; it is just possible that 
[ may have happened to mention the names of 
Pushkin and SchUler in immediate juxtaposition, 
)ut I believe that you will find a comma between 
;hem. They have no smallest point of resemblance. 
Vow between Pushkin and Byron one might speak 
)f a likeness. But as to Homer and Victor Hugo, I 
)ositively believe that you have chosen to misunder- 
itand me I This is what I meant : Homer (a legendary 
igure, who was perhaps sent to us by God, as Christ 
vas) can only be placed with Christ ; by no means 
vith Victor Hugo. Do try, brother, to enter truly 
nto the Iliad ; read it attentively (now confess that 
i^ou never have read it). Homer, in the Iliad, 
jave to the ancient world the same organization in 
ipiritual and earthly matters as the modern world 
)wes to Christ. Do you understand me now ? 
i^ictor Hugo is a singer, clear as an angel, and his 
joetry is chaste and Christian through and through ; 
10 one is like him in that respect — neither Schiller 
if Schiller is a Christian poet at all), nor the lyric 
Shakespeare, nor Byron, nor Pushkin. I have read 
lis Sonnets in French. Homer alone has the same 
inshakeable belief in his vocation for poetry and 
n the god of poetry whom he serves — in that sole 
■espect his poetry is like Victor Hugo's, but not in 
he ideas with which Nature gifted him, and which 
le succeeded in expressing — I never meant the ideas 


at all, never. I even think that Dershavin stands 
higher as a lyricist than either of those two. Fare- 
well, my dear fellow. 

P.S. — I must give you one more scolding. When 
you talk about form in poetry, you seem to me quite 
crazy. I mean it seriously. I noticed a long time 
ago that in this respect you are not wholly normal. 
Lately you let fall a remark of the kind about 
Pushkin ; I purposely did not take it up. Of your 
own forms I'll speak at length in my next letter; 
now I have neither room nor time. But do tell me 
how, when you were talking about forms, you could 
advance the proposition that neither Racine nor 
Corneille could please us, because their forms were 
bad ? You miserable wretch ! And then you add 
with such effrontery : " Do you think, then, that they 
were both bad poets ?" Racine no poet — Racine 
the ardent, the passionate, the idealist Racine, no 
poet ! Do you dare to ask that ? Have you read 
his " Andromaque " — eh ? Have you read his 
"Iphig^nie"? Will you by any chance maintain 
that it is not splendid ? And isn't Racine's Achilles 
of the same race as Homer's ? I grant you, 
Racine stole from Homer, but in what a fashion! 
How marvellous are his women ! Do try to appre- 
hend him. You say " Racine was no genius ; how 
could he possibly (?) produce a drama? He could only 
imitate Corneille." What about " Ph^dre ?" Brother, 
if you won't agree that " Phedre " is the highest and 
purest poetry, I don't know what I shall think of 
you. Why, there's the force of a Shakespeare in it, 
if the medium is plaster of Paris instead of marble. 

Now about Corneille. Listen again, brother I 1 

^T. 18] CORNEILLE 15 

really don't know how to talk to you ; perhaps, like 
Ivan Nikiforovitch,^ I ought to eat a substantial 
portion of herbs first. 1 cannot believe that you've 
read him at all ; that's why you talk such nonsense. 
Why, don't you know that Corneille, with his titanic 
figures and his romantic spirit, nearly approaches 
Shakespeare ? You miserable wretch ! Do you 
happen to know that it was not until fifty years later 
than the inept miserable Jodelle (author of that dis- 
gusting " Cleopatre ") and Ronsard, who was a fore- 
warning of our own Trediakovsky, that CorneiUe 
made his appearance, and that he was almost a con- 
temporary of the insipid poetaster Malherbe ? How 
can you demand form from him ? It was as much 
as one could expect that he should borrow his form 
from Seneca. Have you read his " Cinna"? What, 
before the divine figure of Octavius, becomes of Karl 
Moor, of Fiesco, of TeU, of Don Carlos? That 
work would have done honour to Shakespeare. You 
wretch ! If you haven't read it yet, read now at 
least the dialogue between Augustus and Cinna, 
where he forgives him for his treachery. Good 
Heavens! You will see that only offended seraphs 
could so speak. Particularly the passage where 
Augustus says : " Soyons amis, Cinna." Have you 
read his " Horace"? Decidedly only in Homer can 
you find such figures. Old Horace is another 
Diomedes ; young Horace an Ajax, son of Telamon, 
but with the spirit of an Achilles ; Curias is Patrocles 
and Achilles in one person ; he is the very consum- 
mation of conflicting love and duty. It's all so 
lofty ! Have you read " Le Cid "? Read it, unhappy 
man, and fall in the dust before Corneille. You 

^ The hero of a novel by Gogol. 


have blasphemed him. Anyhow, read him. What 
does the romantic stand for, if it doesn't reach its 
highest development in the " Cid "? How wonderful 
are the figures of Don Rodrigo, of his son, and of 
that son's beloved — and then, the end ! i 

Please don't be offended with me for ray insulting! 
expressions ; don't bear me ill-will, as Ivan Ivanovitch 
Pererepenko did to Gogol. 

To his Brothei' Michael 

September 30, 1844. 

[At first he speaks of the translation of Schiller, 
which the brothers wished to publish.] 

Yes, brother, indeed I know that my position is 
desperate. I want to lay it before you now, just as it 
is. I am retiring because I can serve no longer. Life 
delights me not if I am to spend the best part of it 
in such a senseless manner. Moreover, I never did 
intend to remain long in the service — why should I 
I waste my best yearaj But the chief point is that 
they wanted to send me to the provinces. Now, tell 
me, pray, what should I be good for, out of Peters- 
burg ? What could I do ? You will assuredly 
understand me there. 

As regards my future life, you really need not be 
anxious. I shall always find means to support my- 
self. I mean to work tremendously hard. And I 
am free now. The only question is what I shall do 
just for the moment. Think of it, brother : I owe 
eight hundred roubles — five hundred and twenty- 
five for rent. (I have written home that I owe 
one thousand five hundred, for I know the gentry 

^T. 22] « POOR FOLK " 17 

there.^ They always send me a third of what I ask 
for.) Nobody knows yet that I am retiring. Now, 
what shall I do at first, when I am no longer in the 
service ? I haven't even the money to buy civilian 
clothes. I retire on October 14. If I don't receive 
money from Moscow at once, I am lost. Seriously, 
they wiU put me in prison — this is certain. It's a 
quaint situation, 

[There is further discussion of how he shall get 
money from his relatives.] 

You say that my salvation lies in my drama. But 
it will be a long time before it's played, and longer still 
before I get any money for it. Meanwhile, my retire- 
ment stares me in the face. (My dear fellow, if I had 
not abeady sent in my papers, I should do so now ; 
1 in no wise regret that step.) I have one hope more. 
I am just finishing a novel,^ about the length of 
" Eugenie Grandet." It is most original. I am now 
making the fair copy ; by the 14th I ought certainly 
to have an answer from the editor, I want to bring 
it out in the Otetchestvennia Zapiski.^ (I am well 
pleased with my work.) 1 shall probably get four 
hundred roubles for it — that is all I hope for. I would 
have liked to tell you more about the book, but I 
haven't time. (I shall certainly produce the play, 
anyhow. For that is the way I wish to make a 

The Moscovians are incredibly stupid, conceited, 
and priggish. K. * in his last letter advises me, with 
no apparent relevancy, not to let myself be so carried 
away by Shakespeare. He says that Shakespeare is 

' His father was now dead, and an uncle-in-law acted as 
Dostoevsky's guardian. ^ His " Poor Folk." 

3 " Annals of the Fatherland." * Dostoevsky's guardian. 


only a soap-bubble. I wish you could explain to me 
this ridiculous hostility against Shakespeare. Why 
does he suddenly drag him in? You should have 
seen the answer I sent him ! It was a model in the 
polemic style. I gave him a first-class snubbing. 
My letters are masterpieces of the " literary art." 

Brother, do, for God's sake, write home at once! 
My situation is desperate. The 14th is the very 
utmost limit of my time ; I sent in my papers six 
weeks ago. For Heaven's sake write to them, and 
tell them to send me the money without delay ! It is 
urgent, for otherwise I shall have no clothes. Chles- 
takov (in Gogol's "Revisor") was ready to go to 
prison, but only " with all dignity." Now, how can 
I, barefoot, go to prison "with all dignity"? . . . 

My address : By the Vladimirkirche, care of Pryan- 
ischnikof, Grafengasse. 

I am extraordinarily pleased with my novel — ^beside 
myself with joy. For it I shall certainly get money ; 
but as for anything else. . . . Forgive this incoherent 


To his Brother Michael 

March 24, 1845. 

You must have been burning with impatience for 
ever so long, dearest brother. The uncertainty of 
my situation prevented me from writing. I can give 
myself up to no employment, when only uncertaintji 
stares me in the face. Not that I have yet succeeded 
in regulating my affairs in any way ; but despite this 
unsettled state of things, I will write to you, for it is 
so long since I have sent you a word. 

JET. 23] " POOR FOLK " 19 

I got five hundred roubles from the Moscow folk. 
But I had so many old and new debts that the money 
did not suffice for the printing. Still, it was not so 
bad. I could either go on credit for the printing, or 
else pay only half the household debts ; but the novel 
was not ready. I had finished it in November, but 
in December 1 decided to alter it radically. I did so, 
and wrote it out fair again ; then in February I began 
once more to fiddle at it, polishing, cutting, adding. 
Towards the middle of March I was ready, and 
satisfied with my work. But there arose a fresh 
obstacle : the Censor wanted a whole month for the 
reading. It couldn't be done quicker. The officials 
at the Censorship are said to be loaded down with 
work. I didn't know what to do, and asked for the 
manuscript back. For besides the four weeks for the 
Censor, I had to reckon on three more for the print- 
ing. So at earliest the book would appear in May. 
That would have been too late ! Then people began 
to urge me from all sides to send the novel to the 
Otetchestvennia Zapiski. It would have been mad- 
ness ; I should certainly have rued it. In the first 
place, they wouldn't have read the manuscript at all, 
or, if they had, not for at least six months. They 
have enough manuscripts lying about without getting 
mine. And if they did print, I shouldn't get a penny 
for it ; for that paper is a pure oligarchy. What do 
I want with fame, when I'm writing for daily bread ? 
I took a desperate resolve — to wait a while longer, 
and in the meantime incur fi-esh debts. Towards the 
beginning of September, when everyone will be in 
Petersburg, sniffing about like bloodhounds for some- 
thing new, I'll try with my last kopecks (which 
probably won't nearly suffice) to get the book printed. 


If I published in a magazine, 1 should come under 
the yoke of not only the head maitre d'hdtel, but of 
all the kitchen wenches and urchins who swarm 
wherever culture is in the making. It's not a ques- 
tion of one dictator, but twenty. While if I print 
the novel at my own expense, I may make my way 
by my own ability ; and if the book is good, it won't 
be overlooked — it may even get me out of debt, and 
rescue me from anxiety about the means of sub- 

And now to those means of subsistence ! You 
know well, dear brother, that I have been thrown on 
my own resources in that respect. But I have vowed 
to myself that, however hard it may go with me, I'U 
pull myself together, and in no circumstances will I 
work to order. Work done to order would oppress 
and blight me. I want each of my efforts to be 
incontrovertibly good. Just look at Pushkin and 
Gogol. Both wrote very little, yet both have de- 
served national memorials. Gogol now gets a thousand 
roubles a printed page, while Pushkin had, as you 
know well, as much as a ducat a line of verse. Both 
— but particularly Gogol — bought their fame at the 
price of years of dire poverty. The old school is 
going to pieces ; and the new school doesn't vprite — it 
scribbles. Talent is universally squandered in striv- 
ing after a " broad conception," wherein all one can 
discover is a monstrous inchoate idea and colossal 
muscular effort. There is hardly any real serious work 
in the business. B^ranger said of the modern French 
feuilletonists that their work was like a bottle of 
Chambertin in a bucket of water. And our people 
are the same. Raphael worked for many years at 
each picture, and lingered long over every detail, 


therefore he created masterpieces. Gods grew under 
his brush ! And to-day Vernet gets a picture ready 
in a month, and each needs a huge room, built 
expressly. The perspective is grandiose, the concep- 
tion colossal — but there's not a ha'porth of serious 
work in the thing. They are all no better than 

I am really pleased with my novel. It is a serious 
and well-constructed work. But it has terrible short- 
comings, too. Seeing it in print wiU make up to me 
for everything else. Now, while I have as yet no new 
ideas, I should rather like to write something that 
would introduce me to the public, or even for the 
mere money's sake ; not that I should at all wish to 
write rubbish, but for anything really serious I need 
a lot of time. 

It is getting near the time, my dears, that I had 
hoped to spend with you all. But I shall not have 
the means, that is the money, for it. I have decided 
to stay on in my old abode. For here I have, at any 
rate, a contract with the landlord, and need not worry 
myself about anything for six months. It's simply a 
case of my novel covering all ! If I fail in this, I'll 
hang myself 

I should hke to have saved at least three hundred 
roubles by August. I can have the book printed for 
that. But the roubles run about like crabs in every 
direction. I had about four hundred worth of debts 
(including the new expenses and clothes) ; now I'm 
decently dressed for at least two years. But I really 
will come to you, anyhow. Write as soon as possible 
and say what you think about my staying on here. 
It is a crucial question. But what else can I do ? 

You write that you are terrified of the resourceless 


future. But Schiller will set right all that, and, 

besides, my novel may bring in something. Write 

soon. By the next post I'll tell you all my decisions. 

* * * 

Kiss the children from me, and greet EmUie 
Fyodorovna.i I often think of you all. Perhaps it 
will interest you to know what I do when I'm not 
writing — well, I read. I read a great deal, and it 
has a curious effect on me. When I re-read anything 
that I knew years ago, I feel fresh powers in myself. 
I can pierce to the heart of the book, grasp it entire, 
and from it draw new confidence in myself. Of 
the writing of plays I don't want to know anything. 
To do one I should need years of repose and hard 
study. It is easy enough, indeed, to write plays to- 
day ; the drama is more hke melodrama. Shakespeare 
disappears in the fog, he looks, amid the fumes of 
our wretched modern drama, like a god, or a spectre 
of the Brocken. In the summer I shall, nevertheless, 
perhaps try again to write one. Just let us wait two 
or even three years ! Brother, in literary matters 
I am not the same person that I was a couple of 
years ago. Then it was all childishness and folly. 
These two years of hard study have taken much from 
me, and brought much to me. 

In the Invalide lately I read in the feuiUeton about 
the German writers who died of hunger, cold, or in 
a mad-house. They were twenty in all — and what 
names I Even still it gives me the creeps. It's 
better to be a charlatan, reaUy. . . . 

' Michael Dostoevsky's wife. 

^T. 23] RE- WRITING 23 


To his Brother Michael 

Dearest Brother, ^"^ *' ^^*^- 

Forgive my not having written for so long. 
I have, as usual, had such a confounded lot to do. 
My novel, which I simply can't break loose from, 
keeps me endlessly at work. If I had known before- 
hand how it would be, I should never have begun it 
at aU. I decided to do it all over again, and, by 
God! that has improved it a lot. Now I'm ready with 
it once more, and this revision is really the last. I 
have given myself my word not to touch it again. 
After all, it's the fate of all first books to be altered 
over and over again. I don't know whether Ch§,teau- 
briand's " Atala " was his first book, but I do know 
that he re-wrote it seventeen times. Pushkin did 
just the same with quite short poems. Gogol used 
to polish away at his wonderful works for two years 
at a time, and if you have read the " Sentimental 
Journey," that witty book by Sterne, you'll very 
likely remember what Walter Scott, in his article on 
Steme, says with reference to Sterne's servant. La 
Fleur. La Fleur declared that his master had filled 
about two hundred quires of paper with the descrip- 
tion of his journey through France. Now, the ques- 
tion is. What became of all that paper ? The result 
was a little book, for writing which a parsimonious 
person (such as, for example, Plyushkin^) would have 
used half a quire. I can't understand at all how that 
same Walter Scott could turn out such finished 

' A character in Gogol's "Dead Souls" — the incarnation of 


works as "Mannering" in a few weeks. Perhaps 
only because at that time he was forty years old. 

I don't in the least know, brother, what will become 
of me I You judge me falsely when you maintain 
that my situation doesn't trouble me a bit. It 
worries me frightfully, and I often cannot sleep for 
nights and nights because of my tormenting thoughts. 
Wise folk tell me that I shall come to the ground 
if I pubUsh the novel as a book. They admit that 
the book will be a very good one, but say that I am 
no business man . . . and that the booksellers are 
usurers ; that they will rob me as a matter of course, 
and I, as sure as death, shall let them. 

For these reasons I have resolved to bring out the 
novel in a journal — for example, the Otetcliestvennia 
ZapisJd. That has an edition of 2,500 copies, con- 
sequently it is read by at least 100,000 people. If 
I let the novel appear in this journal, my hterary 
career and my whole future life are assured. I might 
easily make my fortune by it. And thus I shall gain 
a firm footing in the paper, and shall always have 
money ; and if my novel appears in the August or 
September number, I can bring it out as a book on 
my own account in October, and that with the certain 
prospect that everyone who buys novels at all will 
get it. Moreover, the advertisement wiU cost me 
nothing. Well, so things stand I 

Until I have arranged for the novel, I cannot come 
to Reval ; I don't want to waste any of my time. I 
must not flinch at any amount of hard work. I have, 
besides, a lot of new ideas, which will make a name 
for me in literature as soon as my first book has 
forged a path for me. These are, in short, my only 
views for the future. 

^T. 24] EUGENE SUE 25 

But as to money, I have none, alas ! The devil 
knows where it's gone to. But, at all events, I have 
few debts. . . . 

When once I have produced the novel, I shall 
easily be able to arrange for your SchUler translation 
also, as true as I live ! The " Juif Errant " isn't bad. 
But Sue strikes me as very limited in range. 

I don't like to speak of it, dear brother, but your 
situation and the fate of your Schiller worry me so 
much that I often forget my own anxieties. And 
I really have not an easy time of it. 

If I can't pubUsh the novel, I shall probably go into 
the Neva. What else should I do ? I have thought 
of every single thing. I could not survive the death 
of my fixed idea. 

Write to me soon, for I am sick of myself. 


To his Brother Michael 

Dearest Beother, ^'^'^*"'" «' ^«*^- 

Until now I have had neither time nor spirits 
to write you anything about my own affairs. Every- 
thing was disgusting and hateful, and the whole world 
seemed a desert. In the first place, I had no money 
all the time, and was living on credit, which is 
most unpleasant, my dear and only friend. In the 
second, I was in that wretched mood wherein one 
loses all courage, yet does not fall into dull in- 
diflFerence — rather, which is much worse, thinks a 
great deal too much about one's-self, and rages un- 


At the beginning of this month Nekrassov^ came 
to me and paid me back part of his debt ; the rest 
I am to have in a few days. I must tell you that 
Bielinsky^ gave me, a fortnight ago, a comprehensive 
lesson on how to live in the literary world. As a con- 
clusion he told me that, for my soul's sake, I must 
not ask less than two hundred roubles a printed sheet. 
In that case my " Goliadkin "^ would bring me in at 
least fifteen hundred roubles. Nekrassov, who was 
evidently conscience-stricken, anticipated him, and 
promised me on January 15 a hundred roubles more 
for my " Poor Folk," which he has acquired from me. 
He felt obhged to confess to me himself that a fee of a 
hundred and fifty roubles was absolutely un-Christian, 
so he has raised it by a hundred. 

This is all very nice indeed. But it is most un- 
pleasant to have still no word from the Censor about 
"Poor Folk." They have kidnapped that guileless 
novel, and I don't know what will be the end thereof 
And suppose they forbid it to appear ? Or strike out 
every word of it ? It is a real calamity ! Nekrassov 
tells me, too, that his Almanac won't be able to appear 
at the right time, and that that undertaking has already 
cost him four thousand roubles. 

Jakov Petrovitch Goliadkin is a bad hat ! He is 
utterly base, and I positively can't manage him. He 
won't move a step, for he always maintains that he 
isn't ready ; that he's mere nothingness as yet, but 

' Nicolay Alexeyevitch Nekrassov (1821-77), a noted writer of 
Liberal tendencies; he edited from 1846 to 1866 the monthly 
magazine established by Pushkin, Sovremennik ( = The Contempo- 

" Vissarion Grigoryevitch Bielinsky, a most distinguished Russian 
critic, of extreme Liberal tendency. 

» "The Double." 

^T, 24] HOPES OF FAME 27 

could, if it were necessary, show his true character ; 
then why won't he ? And after all, he says, he's no 
worse than the rest. What does he care about my 
toil ? Oh, a terribly base fellow ! In no case can he 
bring his career to a finish before the middle of 
November. He has already had an interview with 
His Excellency, and is not disinclined to take his 
leave — as, indeed, he weU may. Me, his poor author, 
he is putting in a hole. 

1 often go to Biehnsky's. He's inordinately aiFec- 
tionate, seeing in me a vindication of his views to the 
public. I have lately made the acquaintance of 
Kroneberg, the translator of Shakespeare (he's a son 
of the old Professor from Charkov). My future — and 
certainly the immediate future — may shape itself, on 
the whole, most favourably, but may also turn out 
very badly indeed. Bielinsky urges me to finish my 
"Goliadkin." He has already spread the fame of that 
novel through the entire literary world, and almost 
sold it to Krayevsky.^ Half Petersburg is talking of 
"Poor Folk." A good word from Grigorovitch^ carries 
weight, and he said to me myself the other day : " Je 
suis votre claqueur-chauffeur." 

Nekrassov is always full of wild schemes. It is a 
condition of his being — he was born like that. Directly 
he arrived here, he came to me one evening and un- 
folded a plan for a little " flying " Almanac into which 
the whole literary community should put their backs ; 
but at the head of the editorial staiF are to be myself, 
Grigorovitch, and Nekrassov. The last will take the 

' Editor of the Otetchestvennia Zapiski. 

^ Dmitri Vassilivitch Grigorovitch (1822-99), a popular writer; 
author of numerous romances and novels. A colleague ot Dos- 
toevsky in the College of Engineering. 


financial risk. The Almanac is to consist of two 
sheets, and to appear fortnightly — on the 7th and 21st 
of the month. It is to be called Suboskal {The 
Scoffer). We mean to ridicule and jeer at everything 
without mercy— the theatres, newspapers, society, 
literature, daily happenings, exhibitions, advertise- 
ments, foreign news — in short, everything ; the whole 
is to be done with one tendency and in one spirit. 
The first number is to appear on November 7. It is 
wonderfully compounded. In the first place, there are to 
be illustrations as well. As motto we take the famous 
words of Bulgarin* in his feuilleton in the Severndia 
PtcMla {Northern Bee) : " We are ready to die for 
the truth, for we cannot live without truth," etc. 
Underneath we shall put Faddey Bulgarin's signature. 
The prospectus, which will appear on November 1, 
will have the same motto. The first number will 
contain the following contributions : A sort of 
"send-ofF," by Nekrassov, "On Certain Petersburg 
Basenesses " (those, of course, which have just then 
been perpetrated) ; an " anticipated " novel by Eugene 
Sue, " The Seven Deadly Sins " (the whole thing will 
be in three pages) ; a review of all the journals ; a 
lecture "after" Schevirov, on Pushkin's verses: 
they are so harmonious, that when Schevirov once at 
the Coliseum in Rome, in company with some ladies, 
recited a few strophes, all the frogs and lizards that 
house there came creeping out to hear the wondrous 
stanzas (Schevirov gave just such a discourse in the 
Moscow University). Then comes a report of the 
last sitting of the Society of Slavophils, whereat it 
was solemnly maintained that Adam was a Slav and 

1 Faddey Bulgarin (1789-1859), a journalist in the pay of the 
police ; hated and feared as a denouncer and secret agent. 


lived in Russia ; it will be pointed out how important 
and useful is the settling of this question for the 
well-being of the whole Russian nation. In the art 
section, our Suboskal will declare itself at one with 
Kukolnik's Illustration, and call particular attention 
to the following passage in that journal [one where 
the letters and words were printed upside down and 
in the wrong order], for it is well known that the 
Illustration is so badly edited and proof-read that 
topsy-turvy letters and words running into one 
another are quite normal occurrences. Grigorovitch 
will write a " Chronicle of the Week," and take a rise 
out of people with his " things seen." I am to write 
" Observations of a Valet on his Master." The paper 
will, as you see, be highly diverting — something in 
the style of the Guepes of Alphonse Karr. The 
notion is dazzhng, for to me alone will come, at the 
very lowest estimate, from a hundred to a hundred 
and fifty roubles a month. The sheet will succeed. 
Nekrassov will do some verse, too. 

... On no account miss reading " Teverino " (by 
George Sand, in the Otetchestvennia Zapiski for 
October). There has been nothing like it in our 
century. It gives us absolute archetypes of human 
character. . . . 


To his Brother Michael 

~r~. Tk November l6. 1845. 

Dearest Brother, 

I write in great haste, for my time is very 
short. "Gohadkin" is still not ready, but I abso- 
lutely must have him finished by the 25th. You 
haven't written to me for so long that I have been 


worried about you. Do write oftener ; what you say 
about lack of time is nonsense. Does one really need 
much time to write a letter ? Provincial life, with its 
eternal do-nothingness, is simply ruining you, my 
dear fellow — that's all. 

Well, brother, I beheve that my fame is just now in 
its fullest flower. Everywhere I meet with the most 
amazing consideration and enormous interest. I have 
made the acquaintance of a lot of very important 
people. Prince Odoyevsky begs me for the honour 
of a visit, and Count SoUogub is tearing his hair in 
desperation. Panayev told him that a new genius 
had arisen who would sweep aU the rest away. S. 
tore round, called on Krayevsky among others, and 
asked him quite bluntly : " Who is Dostoevsky ? 
Where can I get hold of Dostoevsky ?" Krayevsky, 
who is without respect of persons and snubs every- 
body, gave him for answer : " Dostoevsky won't be 
at all inclined to give you the honour and pleasure of 
his acquaintance." It was just the right word, for the 
youngster is now on his high horse, and hopes to 
crush me to the earth with his gracious condescension. 
Everybody looks upon me as a wonder of the world. 
If I but open my mouth, the air resounds with what 
Dostoevsky said, what Dostoevsky means to do. 
Bielinsky loves me unboundedly. The writer Tur- 
genev, who has just returned from Paris, has from the 
first been more than friendly ; and Bielinsky declares 
that Turgenev has quite lost his heart to me. T. is 
a really splendid person 1 I've almost lost my own 
heart to him. A highly gifted writer, an aristocrat, 
handsome, rich, intelligent, cultured, and only twenty- 
five — I really don't know what more he could ask 
from fate. Besides all that, he has an unusually 


upright, fine, well-disciplined nature. Do read his 
story, "Audrey Kolossov," in the Otetchestvennia 
ZapisM. The hero is himself, though he did not 
intend to depict his own character. 

I am not rich yet, though I can't complain of 
poverty. Lately I was quite penniless for the 
moment ; Nekrassov has since then taken up the 
idea of publishing a most attractive sort of humorous 
Almanac, to be called Suboskal, and I have written 
the prospectus. It made a great sensation, for it is 
the first attempt there has been to write such pro- 
ductions in a light and humorous manner. It 
reminded me of the first feuiUeton of Lucien de 
Rubempr^.^ It has already appeared in the O. Z., 
and in another paper. I got twenty roubles for the 
job. When I found myself without a penny in my 
pocket, I went to call on Nekrassov. While I was 
sitting with him, I had a sudden idea of writing a 
novel in nine letters. As soon as I got home, I wrote 
it in one night ; it takes about half a sheet. In the 
morning I took the manuscript to Nekrassov, and 
got 125 roubles for it, so the Suboskal pays me at 
the rate of 250 roubles a sheet. In the evening my 
novel was read aloud in our circle — that is, before an 
audience of twenty, and had a colossal success. It 
wiU appear in the first number of the Suboskal. 
I'll send you the number for December 1. Bielinsky 
says he is quite sure of me now, for I have the faculty 
of grasping the most diverse subjects. When Kra- 
yevsky heard lately that I had no money, he begged 
me quite humbly to accept a loan of 500 roubles. 
I think that I shall get 200 roubles a sheet from 

^ In Balzac's " Illusions perdues." 


I have a lot of new ideas — and if I confide any of 
them to anybody, for instance Turgenev, by next 
morning it will be rumoured in every corner of 
Petersburg that Dostoevsky is writing this or that. 
Indeed, brother, if I were to recount to you all my 
triumphs, this paper would by no means suffice. I 
think that I shall soon have plenty of money. 
" Goliadkin " thrives mightily ; it will be my master- 
piece. Yesterday I was at P.'s house for the first 
time, and I have a sort of idea that I have fallen in 
love with his wife. She is wise and beautiful, 
amiable, too, and unusually direct. I am having a 
good time. Our circle is very extensive. But I'm 
writing about nothing but myself — forgive me, dear 
fellow ; I will frankly confess to you that I am quite 
intoxicated by my fame. With my next letter I'll 
send you the Suboskal. BieUnsky says that I pro- 
faned myself by collaborating in it. 

Farewell, my friend. I wish you luck, and con- 
gratulate you on your promotion. I kiss the hands 
of your Emilie Fyodorovna, and hug the children. 
How are they aU ? 

P.S. — Bielinsky is keeping the publishers from 
tearing me to pieces. I've read this letter over, and 
come to two conclusions — that I write atrociously, 
and that I'm a boaster. 

Farewell, and for God's sake write. Our Schiller 
will certainly come off. Biehnsky praises the idea of 
publishing the collected works. I beheve that in 
time I shall be able to make good terms for the 
work — perhaps with Nekrassov. Farewell. 

All the Minnas, Claras, Mariannas, etc., have got 
amazingly pretty, but cost a lot of money. Turgenev 
and Bielinsky lately gave me a talking-to about my 


disorderly way of life. Those fellows really don't 
know how they can best prove their affection — they 
are all in love with me. 


To his Brother Michael 

Dearest Brother, ^'^'""""y ^' ^«*^- 

To begin with, don't be angry because I 
haven't written for so long. I swear to God that 
I've had no time, as I shall now show you. I was 
prevented chiefly by that rascal " Goliadkin," with 
whom I never finished till the 28th. It's frightful ! 
And it's always the same whenever one promises 
one's-self anything. I meant to get done with him 
in August, but had to put off till February. Now 
I am sending you the Almanac. " Poor Folk " 
appeared on the 15th. If you only knew, brother, 
how bitterly the book has been abused ! The 
criticism in the Illustration was one unbroken 
tirade. And that in the S^verndia Ptchela {Northern 
Bee) is incredible, too ; but at all events, I can remind 
myself how Gogol was received by the critics, and 
we both know the things that were written about 
Pushkin. Even the public is quite furious : three- 
fourths of my readers abuse, and a quarter (or even 
less) praise the book beyond measure. It is the 
subject of endless discussion. They scold, scold, 
scold, yet they read it. (The Almanac has gone off 
amazingly well. The whole edition is certain to be 
sold out in a fortnight.) And it was the same with 
Gogol. They abused, abused, but read him. Now 
they've made up that quarrel, and praise him. I've 
thrown a hard bone to the dogs, but let them worry 


at it — fools I they but add to my fame. The notice 
in the Northern Bee is a disgrace to their critic. It's 
stupid beyond belief. But then, the praise I get, 
too ! Only think, all our lot, and even Bielinsky, 
consider that I have far surpassed Gogol. In the 
Book-lovers' Library, where the critiques are written 
by Nikitenko, there is soon to be a very long and 
favourable notice of " Poor Folk." BieUnsky will 
ring a full peal in March. Odoevsky is devoting 
his whole article to "Poor Folk" alone; my friend 
SoDogub likewise. So I'm in the empyrean, brother, 
and three months hence I'll tell you in person of all 
my experiences. 

Our public, like the crowd everywhere, has good 
instincts, but no taste. They cannot understand how 
anyone can write in such a style. They are accus- 
tomed to be treated, in every work, to the author's 
own fads and fancies. Now I have chosen not to 
show mine. They will not perceive that this or 
that view is expressed by Dyevuschkin, not by me, 
and that he could not speak otherwise. They find 
the book too drawn-out, and yet there is not a single 
superfluous word in it. Many, hke Bielinsky, think 
very original my manner of proceeding by analysis 
rather than by synthesis — that is, I pierce to the 
depths, trace out the atoms, and from them construct 
the whole. Gogol always works on the broad lines, 
and so he never goes as deep as I do. When you 
read my book, you'U see this for yourself. I have a 
brilliant future before me ! To-day my " Goliad- 
kin " appears. Four days ago I was still working at 
him. He will fill eleven sheets of the Otetschest- 
vennia Zapiski. " Goliadkin " is ten times better than 
"Poor Folk." Our lot say that there has been 

ET. 24] BAD HEALTH 35 

lothing like it in Russia since "Dead Souls," and 
;hat it is a truly brilliant achievement ; they even 
jay more. What don't they look for from me ! 
'•' Goliadkin " really has come off well. You will be 
sure to like him enormously. Do they take the O. Z. 
in your part of the world ? I don't know if Krayevsky 
will give me a free copy. 

I haven't written to you for so long, dear brother, 
that I really don't know what I told you last. So 
much has been happening ! We shall soon see one 
another again. In the summer I shall positively 
come to you, my friends, and shall write tremendously 
the whole time. I have ideas ; and I'm writing now, 

For "Gohadkin" I got exactly 600 roubles. And 
I've earned a lot of money besides, so that since 
our last meeting I've run through more than 
3,000 roubles. I do live in a very disorderly way, 
and that's the truth 1 . . . My health is utterly 
shattered. I am neurotic, and dread low fever. I am 
so dissolute that I simply can't live decently any 
more. . . . 



To his Brother Michael 

April 1, 1846. 

You do reproach me, don't you, because I have not 
written for so long ? But I take my stand upon 
Poprischtschin's^ saying : " Letters are rubbish ; only 
apothecaries write letters." What could I have said 
to you ? If I had told all I had to tell, it would have 
taken volumes. Every day brings me so much that 

' Hero of Gogol's " Memoirs of a Madman." 


is new, so many changes and impressions, agreeable 
and disagreeable, lucky and unlucky, matters, that 
I have no time to reflect upon them. In the first 
place, I'm always busy. I have heaps of ideas, and 
write incessantly. But don't imagine that mine is 
a bed of roses. Far from it. To begin with, I've 
spent a very great deal of money — that is to say, 
exactly 4,500 roubles — since our last meeting, and 
got about a thousand for my wares. Thus, with that 
economy of mine which you know so well, I have 
positively robbed myself, and so it often happens that 
I am quite penniless. . . . 

But that doesn't signify. My fame has reached its 
highest point. In the course of two months I have, 
by my OAvn reckoning, been mentioned five-and-thirty 
times in different papers. In certain articles I've been 
praised beyond measure, in others with more reserve, 
and in others, again, frightfully abused. What could 
I a§k for more? But it does pain and trouble me 
that my own friends, Bielinsky and the others, are 
dissatisfied with my " Goliadkin." The first impres- 
sion was blind enthusiasm, great sensation, and endless 
argument. The second was the really critical one. 
They all — that is, my friends and the whole pubhc— 
declare with one voice that my " Gohadkin " is tedious 
and thin, and so drawn-out as to be almost unread- 
able. One of our lot is now going in for the perusal 
of one chapter a day, so that he may not tire himself, 
and in this way he smacks his lips with joy over it. 
Some of the public say emphatically that the book 
is quite impossible, that no one could really read it, 
that it's madness to write and print such stuff; others, 
again, declare that everything is from the life, and 
that they recognize themselves in the book; now 


and again, it is true, I hear such hymns of praise that 
I should be ashamed to repeat them. As to myself, 
I was for some time utterly discouraged. I have 
one terrible vice : I am unpardonably ambitious and 
egotistic. The thought that I had disappointed aU 
the hopes set on me, and spoilt what might have 
been a really significant piece of work, depressed me 
very heavUy. The thought of " Goliadkin " made me 
sick. I wrote a lot of it too quickly, and in moments 
of fatigue. The first half is better than the second. 
Alongside many brilliant passages are others so dis- 
gustingly bad that I can't read them myself AU 
this put me in a kind of hell for a time ; I was actually 
iU with vexation. Dear brother, I'll send you the 
book in a fortnight. Read it, and give me your honest 

I'U go over my life and work of late and tell you 
some bits of news : 

1st. A big bit : Bielinsky is giving up the editor- 
ship of the O. Z. His health is sadly shattered, and 
he is going to a spa, perhaps in foreign parts. For a 
couple of years or so he will wtite no criticism at all. 
To bolster up his finances, he is publishing an Almanac 
of fabulous size — sixty sheets. I am writing two tales 
for him : " The Whiskers that were Shaved Off," and 
" The Story of the Abohshed Public Offices." Both 
are overwhelmingly tragic, and extraordinarily inter- 
esting — told most curtly. The public awaits them 
eagerly. Both are short tales. . . . Besides these, I 
am to do something for Krayevsky, and write a novel 
for Nekrassov. The whole lot will take about a year. 
The " Whiskers " are ready now. 

2nd bit of news : A whole crowd of new writers 
have popped up. In some I divine rivals. Particu- 


larly interesting are Herzen (Iskander) and Gonts- 
charov. Herzen has published some things. 
Gontscharov is only beginning, and has not yet been 
printed. Both are immensely praised. But at 
present I have the top place, and hope to keep it for 
ever. In literary life there vs^as never such activity as 
now. It is a good sign. 

[Here follow some unimportant details of Dos- 
toevsky's life. He gives his brother, among other 
things, the advice to translate Goethe's "Reineke 


To his Brother Michael 

September M, 1846. 

I have already told you that I've rented a house. 
I'm not in distress, but I have no outlook for the 
future. Krayevsky has given me fifty roubles, but I 
could read in his face that he'U give me no more, so I 
shall have a pretty stiff time. 

In a certain quarter (the Censorship) they have 
mutilated my ' ' Prochartschin " frightfully. The gentle- 
men have even — God knows why — struck out the word 
" official." The whole thing was, for that matter, en- 
tirely without offence, yet they've cut it to pieces. 
They've simply killed the book dead. There is only 
a skeleton left of what I read to you. Henceforth I 
renounce that work of mine. ... I am still writing 
at the " Whiskers." The work goes very slowly. I 
fear it won't be ready in time. I heard from two 
men, namely Grigorovitch and a certain Beketov II., 
that the Petersburg Almanac^ is known in the 

' Peterhourgshf Shomik. 


provinces only by the name of " Poor Folk." The 
rest of the contents don't interest people in the least ; 
and the sale in the provinces is colossal, they often 
pay double prices. At the booksellers' in Pensa and 
Kiev, for instance, the Almanac is officially priced at 
from 25 to 30 roubles. It is really remarkable ; here 
the book fell flat, and there they scramble for it. 

Grigorovitch has written a truly wonderful story. 
Myself and Maikov (who, by-the-bye, wants to write 
a long article on me) have arranged for it to appear 
in the O. Z. That journal is, by the way, in very low 
water ; they haven't a single story in reserve. 

Here we are frightfully dull. And so work goes 
badly. I lived in a sort of paradise with you ; when 
things do go well with me, I ruin everything by my 
damnable character. . . . 


To his Brother Michael 
Dearest Brother, [Ur^ated] i846. 

I mean to write to you only a few lines, for I 
have a terrible crop of worries, and my situation is 
desperate. The truth is that all my plans have come 
to naught. The volume of stories is done for, be- 
cause not a single one of the tales I told you about 
lately has come oflF. Even the " Whiskers " I have 
abandoned. I've abandoned the whole lot, for they 
are nothing but a repetition of old stuif, long since 
given forth by me. I have heaps of original, vital, 
and lucid thoughts that all yearn to come to the 
birth. When I had written the conclusion of the 
" Whiskers " I saw this all by myself. In my posi- 
tion, any monotony is fatal. 


I am writing a new story, and the work, as with 
" Poor Folk," goes easily and lightly. I had intended 
this tale for Krayevsky. The gentlemen on the 
Sovremennik may resent this ; it will affect me but 
little. If I have this story ready in January, I shall 
print nothing till the following year ; I want to write 
a novel, and shan't rest till I do. 

But that I may live in the meantime, I intend 
to bring out " Poor Folk " and the over-written 
" Goliadkin " in book-form. . . . 


To his Brother Michael 

November 26, 1846. 

AU my plans about publishing have fallen through. 
The whole idea, however, was doubtfully profitable, 
needed much time, and was possibly premature. 
The public might have held off. I mean to post- 
pone all that till next autumn. I shall by then be 
better known, and my position will be more defined. 
Besides, I have some money coming in. "GoHadkin" 
is now being illustrated by an artist in Moscow, 
and two artists here are doing pictures for "Poor 
Folk." Whichever does them best, gets the com- 
mission. Bernardsky^ tells me that in February he 
wants to do business with me, and will pay me a 
certain sum for the right to publish my works with 
his illustrations. Till now he has been occupied with 
the illustrations to " Dead Souls." In a word, the 
publishing plans no longer interest me. Moreover, 

^ At that time a popular engraver and book-illustrator. 


I have no time. I have a lot of work and commis- 
sions. 1 must tell you that I have broken off all 
relations with the Sovremennik as far as Nekrassov 
represents it. He was vexed because I wrote also 
for Krayevsky (as I had to do, so as to work off his 
advances of money to me), and because 1 would not 
make the public declaration which he desired, saying 
that I no longer was on the editorial staff of the 
O. Z. When he saw that he could get no new work 
from me in the immediate future, he flung various 
rudenesses at my head, and was foolish enough to 
demand money from me. I took him at his word, 
and drew up a promissory note which covered the 
whole amount, payable on December 15. I mean to 
see them coming to me hat in hand. As soon as I 
roundly abused Nekrassov, he curtsied and whimpered 
like a Jew that's been robbed. In short, it's a shabby 
story. Now they are spreading it about that I'm off 
my head with conceit, and have sold myself to 
Krayevsky, because Maikov praises me in his paper. 
Nekrassov henceforth means to drag me down. But 
as to Bielinsky, he is so pliable that even about 
literary matters he changes his views five times a 
week. With him alone have I kept up my former 
happy relations. He's a thoroughly good fellow. 
Krayevsky was so delighted by this whole affair that 
he gave me money, and promised besides to pay all 
my debts up to December 15. Therefore I must 
work for him until the early New Year. 

Now look, brother — from the whole business I have 
deduced a sage rule. First, the budding author of 
talent injures himself by having friendly relations 
with the publishers and proprietors of journals, the 
consequence of which is that those gentry take 


liberties and behave shabbily. Moreover, the artist 
must be independent ; and finally, he must conse- 
crate all his toil to the holy spirit of art — such toil 
is holy, chaste, and demands single-heartedness ; my 
own heart thrills now as never before with all the 
new imaginings that come to life in my soul. 
Brother, I am undergoing not only a moral, but a 
physical, metamorphosis. Never before was there in 
me such lucidity, such inward wealth ; never before 
was my nature so tranquil, nor my health so satis- 
factory, as now. I owe this in great measure to my 
good friends : Beketov, Sahubezky, and the others 
with whom I Hve. They are honest, sensible fellows, 
with fine instincts and affections, and noble, steadfast 
characters. Intercourse with them has healed me. 
Finally, I suggested that we should hve together. 
We took a big house aU to ourselves, and go share 
and share alike in all the housekeeping expenses, 
which come, at the most, to 1,200 roubles a head 
annually. So great are the blessings of the com- 
munal system ! I have a room to myseK, and work 
all day long. 


To his Brother Michael 


Dear Bkothee, 

I must once more beg you to forgive me for 
not having kept my word, and written by the next 
post. But through all the meantime I have been so 
depressed in spirit that I simply could not write. I 
have thought of you with so much pain — your fate 
is truly grievous, dear brother I With your feeble 


^T. 25] PHARISEES 43 

health, your turn of mind, your total lack of com- 
panionship, living in one perpetual tedium unvaried 
by any little festive occasions, and then the constant 
care about your family — care v^hich is sweet to you, 
yet nevertheless weighs you down like a heavy yoke 
— why, your hfe is unbearable. But don't lose 
courage, brother. Better days will come. And 
know this, the richer we are in mind and spirit, 
the fairer will our life appear. It is indeed true 
that the dissonance and lack of equilibrium between 
ourselves and society is a terrible thing. External 
and internal things should be in equilibrium. For," 
lacking external experiences, those of the inward life 
will gain the upper hand, and that is most dangerous. 
The nerves and the fancy then take up too much 
room, as it were, in our consciousness. Every 
external happening seems colossal, and frightens 
us. We begin to fear life. It is at any rate a 
blessing that Nature has gifted you with powers of 
affection and strength of character. You have, 
besides, a vigorous, healthy mind, sparkles of dia- 
mond-like wit, and a happy nature. This is your 
salvation. I always think of you a great deal. My 
God, there are so many sour-faced, smaU-souled, 
narrow-minded, hoary-headed philosophers, professors 
of the art of existence, Pharisees, who pride them- 
selves on their " experience of hfe " — that is to say, 
their lack of individuality (for they are all cut on the 
same pattern) ; and who are good for nothing at all, 
with their everlasting preachments about content- 
ment with one's destiny, faith in something or other, 
modest demands from life, acceptance of the station 
one finds one's-self in, and so on — never once thinking 
about the sense of any of those words ; for theii- con- 


tentment is that of cloistered self-castration; they 
judge with unspeakably paltry animosity the vehe- 
ment, ardent nature of him who refuses to accept 
their insipid " daily-task " calendar of existence. Oh, 
how vulgar are all these preachers of the falseness of 
earthly joys — how vulgar, every one ! Whenever I 
fall into their hands, I suffer the torments of hell. . . . 

[Here follows the description of a visitor who had 
enraged Dostoevsky with his " vulgarities."] 

I wish so much to see you again. Sometimes a 
nameless grief possesses me. I can't help thinking 
perpetually how moody and " edgey " I was when 
with you at Reval. 1 was ill then. I remember still 
how you once said to me that my behaviour towards 
you excluded all sense of equality between us. My 
dear brother, that was unjust. I have indeed, it is 
true, an evil, repellent character. But I have always 
ranked you above myself. I could give my hfe for you 
and yours ; but even when my heart is warm with 
love, people often can't get so much as one friendly 
word out of me. At such times I have lost control of 
my nerves. I appear ludicrous, repellent, and have to 
suffer inexpressibly from the misunderstanding of my 
feUow-creatures. People call me arid and heartless. 
How often have I been rude to EmUie Fyodorovna, 
your wife, who is a thousand times my superior. I 
remember, too, that frequently I was cross with your 
son Fedya for no reason at all, though at the very time 
I loved him perhaps even more than I love you. I 
can show myself to be a man of feeling and humour 
only when external circumstances lift me high above 
the external daily round. When that is not my 
state, I am always repellent. I account for these 

^T. 25] "THE DOUBLE " ("GOLIADKIN ") 45 

disparities by my malady. Have you read " Lucretia 
Floriani "? Take a look at the " King " too. But soon 
you'll be able to read my " Netotschka Nesvanova." 
That story, like " Goliadkin," will be a self-confes- 
sion, though different in tone. About " Gohadkin " 
I often happen to hear such expressions of opinion 
that I get quite frightened. Many say that it is a 
veritable, as yet uncomprehended, marvel, that it will 
have enormous significance in the future, and that by 
itself alone it is enough to make me famous ; some 
think it more exciting than Dumas. Now I'm 
beginning again to praise myself But it is so delight- 
ful, brother, to be rightly understood ! For what, 
actually, do you love me so much ? I'll see to it that 
somehow we meet again very soon. Won't we love 
one another, that's all ! Wish me success. I am now 
working at " The Mistress of the Inn." It is getting 
on more easily than "Poor Folk " did. The story is in 
the same manner. A flow of inspiration, which comes 
from my inmost soul, is guiding my pen. It is quite 
different from what it was with " Prochartschin," 
from which I suffered the whole summer through. 
How I wish I could soon help you, brother. Depend, 
as on a rock, on the money that I promised you. Kiss 
all your dear ones for me. In the meantime I am 

Thy Dostoevsky. 


To his Brother Michael 

[Postscript to a longer business letter, early in the 
year 1847.] 

You will scarcely beheve it. Here is the third year 
of my literary activity, and I am as if in a dream. I 


don't see the life about rae at all, I have no time to 
become conscious of it ; no time, either, to learn any- 
thing. I want to attain to something steadfast. 
People have created a dubious fame for me, and I 
know not how long this hell of poverty and constant 
hurried work will last. Oh, if I could but once have 
rest ! 


To his Brother Michael 

[From the Fortress], 

Dear Brother, -^"'^ ^«' ^«*9- 

I was inexpressibly glad of your letter, which 
I got on July 11. At last you are free, and I can 
vividly imagine how happy you were when you saw 
your family again. How impatiently they must 
have awaited you ! I seem to see that your life is 
beginning to shape itself differently. With what 
are you now occupied, and, above aU, what are 
your means of support ? Have you work, and of 
what sort ? Summer is indeed a burden in the town. 
You teU me only that you have taken a new house ; 
and probably it is much smaller. It is a pity you 
couldn't spend the whole summer in the country. I 
thank you for the things you sent ; they have relieved 
and diverted me. You write, my dear fellow, that I 
must not lose heart. Indeed, I am not losing heart 
at all ; to be sure, life here is very monotonous and 
dreary, but what else could it be ? And after all it 
isn't invariably so tedious. The time goes by most 
irregularly, so to speak — now too quickly, now too 
slowly. Sometimes I have the feehng that I've 

^T. 27] PRISON-LIFE 47 

grown accustomed to this sort of life, and that nothing 
matters very much. Of course, I try to keep all 
alluring thoughts out of my head, but can't always 
succeed ; my early days, with their fresh impressions, 
storm in on my soul, and I live all the past over again. 
That is in the natural order of things. The days are 
now for the most part bright, and I am somewhat 
more cheerful. The rainy days, though, are unbear- 
able, and on them the casemate looks terribly grim. 
I have occupation, however. I do not let the time go 
by for naught ; I have made out the plots of three 
tales and two novels ; and am writing a novel now, but 
avoid over-working. Such labour, when I do it with 
great enjoyment (I have never worked so much 
con amove as now), has always agitated me and 
affected my nerves. While I was working in freedom 
I was always obliged to diversify my labours with 
amusements ; but here the excitement consequent on 
work has to evaporate unaided. My health is good, 
except for the hsemorrhoids, and the shattered state 
of my nerves, which keeps up a constant crescendo. 
Now and then I get attacks of breathlessness, my 
appetite is as unsatisfactory as ever, I sleep badly, and 
have morbid dreams. I sleep about five hours in the 
daytime, and wake four times at least every night. 
This is the only thing that really bothers me. The 
worst of all are the twilight hours. By nine o'clock 
it is quite dark here. I often cannot get to sleep 
until about one or two in the morning, and the five 
hours during which I have to lie in darkness are hard 
to bear. They are injuring my health more than 
anything else. When our case will be finished I can't 
say at aU, for I have lost all sense of time, and merely 
use a calendar upon which I stroke out, quite passively. 


each day as it passes : " That's over I" I haven't read 
much since I've been here : two descriptions of travel 
in the Holy Land, and the works of Demetrius von 
Rostov. The latter interested me very much ; but that 
kind of reading is only a drop in the ocean ; any other 
sorts of books would, I imagine, quite extraordinarily 
delight me, and they might be very useful, for thus I 
could diversify my own thoughts with those of others, 
or at all events capture a different mood. 

There you have all the details of my present exist- 
ence — I have nothing else to tell you. I am glad 
that you found your family in the best of health. 
Have you yet written of your liberation to Moscow ? 
It is a pity that nothing is done there. How I should 
like to spend at least one day with you ! It is now 
three months since we came to this fortress : what 
may not still be in store for us ! Possibly I shall not, 
the whole summer through, see so much as one green 
leaf Do you remember how in May they would 
take us to walk in the little garden ? The green was 
just beginning then, and I couldn't help thinking of 
Reval, where I was with you at about that season, and 
of the garden belonging to the Engineering College. 
I imagined that you must be making the same com- 
parison, so sad was I. And I should like to see a lot 
of other people besides. Whom do you see most of 
now ? I suppose everybody's in the country. But 
our brother Andrey must surely be in town ? Have 
you seen Nikolya ? Greet them all from me. Kiss 
all your children for me. Greet your wife, and tell 
her that I am greatly touched by her thinking of me. 
Don't be too anxious on my account. I have but one 
wish — to be in good health ; the tedium is a passing 
matter, and cheerfulness depends in the last resort 

iET. 27] ENDURANCE 49 

upon myself. Human beings have an incredible 
amount of endurance and will tq live ; I should never 
have expected to find so much in myself ; now I know 
it from experience. Farewell ! I hope that these 
few lines will give you much pleasure. Greet every 
one you see whom I have known — forget no one. I 
have not forgotten anybody. What can the children 
bethinking of me, and how do they explain to them- 
selves my disappearance ! Farewell. If you can at 
all manage it, send me the O. Z. Then I should at 
any rate have something to read. Write me a few 
lines — it would extraordinarily cheer me. 
Till next time ! 


To his Brother Michael 

[From the Fortress], 

Augmt 27, 1849. 

I rejoice that I may answer you, dear brother, and 
thank you for sending the books. I rejoice also that you 
are well, and that the imprisonment had no evil effects 
upon your constitution. I am most particularly 
grateful to you for the O. Z. But you write far top 
little, and my letters are much more comprehensive 
than yours. This only by the way — you'll do better 
next time. 

I have nothing definite to tell you about myself 
As yet I know nothing whatever about our case. 
My personal life is as monotonous as ever ; but they 
have given me permission to walk in the garden, where 
there are almost seventeen trees ! This is a great 
happiness for me. Moreover, I am given a candle in 
the evenings — that's my second piece of luck. The 


third will be mine if you answer as soon as possible, 
and send me the next number of the O. Z. I am in 
the same position as a country subscriber, and await 
each number as a great event, like some landed 
proprietor dying of boredom in the pro\dnces. Will 
you send me some historical works ? That would be 
splendid. But best of all would be the Bible (both 
Testaments). I need one. Should it prove possible, 
send it in a French translation. But if you couM 
add as well a Slav edition, it would be the height of 

Of my health I can tell you nothing good. For a 
month I have been living almost exclusively on castor 
oil. My haemorrhoids have been unusually torment- 
ing; moreover I detect a pain in the breast that I have 
never had before. My nervous irritability has notably 
increased, especially in the evening hours ; at night I 
have long, hideous dreams, and latterly I have often 
felt as if the ground were rocking under me, so that 
my room seems like the cabin of a steamer. From 
all this I conclude that my nerves are increasingly 
shattered. Whenever formerly I had such nervous 
disturbances, I made use of them for writing ; in such 
a state I could write much more and much better than 
usual ; but now I refrain from work that 1 may not 
utterly destroy myself. I took a rest of three weeks, 
during which time I wrote not at all ; now I have 
begun again. But anyhow, all this is nothing: I 
can stick it out to the end. Perhaps I shall get quite 
right again. 

You most tremendously astonish me when you 
write that you believe they know nothing of our 
adventure in Moscow. I have thought it over, and 
come to the conclusion that that's quite impossible, 

^T. 27] GREY SKIES 51 

They simply must know, and I attribute their silence 
to another reason. And that was, after all, to be 
expected. Oh, it's quite clear. ^ . , 

[The letter goes on to speak of his brother's family. 
Dostoevsky also makes some unimportant remarks on 
the articles in the O. Z.] 


To his Brother Michael 

[From the Fortress], 

September 14, 1849. 

I have received, dear brother, your letter, the 
books (Shakespeare, the Bible, and the O. Z.) and 
the money (ten roubles) : thank you for all. I am glad 
that you are well. I go on as before. Always the 
same digestive troubles and the hsemorrhoids. I 
don't know if all this will ever leave me. The 
autumn months, which I find so trying, are drawing 
near, and with them returns my hypochondria. The 
sky is already grey ; my health and good heart are 
dependent on those little tatters of blue that I can 
see from my casemate. But at any rate I'm alive, 
and comparatively well. This fact I maintain: 
therefore I beg you not to think of my state as 
whoUy grievous. My health is at present good. I 
had expected worse, and now I see that I have so 
much vitality in me that it simply won't allow itself 
to be exhausted. 

Thank you again for the books. They divert me 
at all events. For almost five months I have been 
living exclusively on my own provisions — that is to 
say, on my own head alone and solely. That machine 
is still in working order. But it is unspeakably hard 
to think only, everlastingly to think, without any of 


those external impressions which renew and nourish 
the soul. 1 live as though under the bell of an air- 
pump, from which the air is being drawn. My whole 
existence has concentrated itself in my head, and 
from my head has drifted into my thoughts, and 
the labour of those thoughts grows more arduous 
every day. Books are certainly a mere drop in the 
ocean, still they do always help me ; while my own 
work, I think, consumes my remains of strength. 
Nevertheless it gives me much happiness. 

I have read the books you sent. 1 am particularly 
thankful for the Shakespeare. That was a good idea 
of yours. The English novel in the O. Z. is very 
good. On the other hand, Turgenev's comedy is un- 
pardonably bad. Why has he always such ill-luek ? 
Is he fated to ruin every work of his which runs to 
more than one printed sheet ? I simply could not 
recognize him in this comedy. Not a trace of 
originality ; everything in the old, worn-out groove. 
He has said it all before, and much better. The last 
scene is puerile in its feebleness. Here and there 
one thinks to see signs of talent, but only for want 
of something better. How splendid is the article on 
the Banks — and how universally true ! I thank all 
who remember me ; greet your Emilie Fyodorovna 
from me, our brother Audrey too, and kiss the chil- 
dren, who, I greatly hope, are better. Truly I don't 
know, brother, when and how we shall meet again 1 
Farewell, and please don't forget me. Write to me, 
even if it can't be for a fortnight. TiU next time ! 



Pray do not be anxious about me. If you can get 
hold of any books, send them. 



To his Brother Michael 

[From the Fortress], 

December 22, 1849. 

To-day, the 22nd of December, we were all taken 
to Semjonovsky Square. There the death-sentence 
was read to us, we were given the Cross to kiss, the 
dagger was broken over our heads, and our funeral 
toilet (white shirts) was made. Then three of us 
were put standing before the pahsades for the execu- 
tion of the death-sentence. I was sixth in the row ; 
we were called up by groups of three, and so I 
was in the second group, and had not more than a 
minute to live. I thought of you, my brother, and 
of yours ; in that last moment you alone were in my 
mind ; then first 1 learnt how very much I love 
you, my beloved brother! I had time to embrace 
Plestcheiev and Dourov, who stood near me, and 
to take my leave of them. Finally, retreat was 
sounded, those who were bound to the palisades 
were brought back, and it was read to us that His 
Imperial Majesty granted us our lives. Then the 
final sentences were recited. Palm alone is fully 
pardoned. He has been transferred to the line with 
the same rank. 



To Ills Brother Michael 

[From Omsk], 

February 22, 1864. 

At last I can talk with you somewhat more ex- 
plicitly, and, I believe, in a more reasonable manner. 


But before I write another line I must ask you: 
Tell me, for God's sake, why you have never written 
me a single syllable till now ? Could I have expected 
this from you ? Believe me, in my lonely and isolated 
state, 1 sometimes fell into utter despair, for I 
believed that you were no longer ahve ; through 
whole nights I would brood upon what was to become 
of your children, and I cursed my fate because I 
could not help them. But whenever I heard for 
certain that you were still alive, I would get furious 
(this happened, however, only in times of illness, 
from which I have suffered a very great deal), and 
begin to reproach you bitterly. Then those states of 
mind would pass, and I would excuse you, I would 
exert liiyself to find a justification for you, and grow 
tranquil as soon as I discovered any — nor did I ever 
for a moment utterly lose faith in you : I know that 
you love me, and keep me in kindly remembrance. 
I wrote you a letter through our official staff; you 
simply must have got it ; I expected an answer fi;ora 
you, and received none. Were you then forbidden 
to write to me ? But I know that letters are allowed, 
for every one of the political prisoners here gets 
several in the year. Even Dourov had some ; and we 
often asked the officials how it stood about corre- 
spondence, and they declared that people had the 
right to send us letters. I think I have guessed the 
real reason for your silence. You were too lazy to 
go to the police-office, or if you did go once, you 
took the first " No " for an answer — given you, prob- 
ably, by some functionary or other who knew nothing 
rightly about the matter. Well, you have caused 
me a great deal of selfish anxiety, for I thought : If 
he won't take any trouble about a letter, he certainly 

^T. 32] AFTE^l FOUR YEARS 55 

won't either about more important things ! Write 
and answer me as quickly as possible ; write, without 
awaiting an opportunity, officially, and be as explicit 
and detailed as you possibly can. I am like a slice 
cut from a loaf nowadays ; I long to grow back again, 
but can't. Les absents ont toujours tort. Is that say- 
ing to come true of us two ? But be easy in your 
mind : I trust you. 

It is a week now since I left the prison. I am 
sending this letter in the strictest secrecy ; say not a 
syllable about it to anyone. I shall send you an 
official one too, through the staff of the Siberian 
Army Corps. Answer the official one instantly, but 
this — on the first suitable occasion. You must, though, 
write very circumstantially in the official letter of 
what you have been doing during these four years. 
For my part 1 should hke to be sending you volumes. 
But as my time scarcely suffices for even this sheet, 
I shall tell you only the most important thing. 

What is the most important ? What was the most 
important to me in the recent past ? When I reflect, 
I see that even to tell that, this sheet is far too small. 
How can I impart to you what is now in my mind — 
the things I thought, the things 1 did, the convictions 
I acquired, the conclusions I came to ? I cannot 
even attempt the task. It is absolutely impracticable. 
I don't like to leave a piece of work half done ; to say 
only a part is to say nothing. At any rate, you now 
have my detailed report in your hands : read it, and 
get from it what you will- It is my duty' to tell you 
all, and so I will begin with my recollections. Do 
you remember how we parted from one another, my 
dear beloved fellow ? You had scarcely left me when 
we three, Dourov, Yastrchembsky, and I, were led 


out to have the irons put on. Precisely at midnight 
on that Christmas Eve (1849), did chains touch me 
for the first time. They weigh about ten pounds, 
and make walking extraordinarily difficult. Then 
we were put into open sledges, each alone with a 
gendarme, and so, in four sledges — the orderly open- 
ing the procession — we left Petersburg. I was 
heavy-hearted, and the many different impressions 
filled me with confused and uncertain sensations. 
My heart beat with a peculiar flutter, and that 
numbed its pain. Still, the fresh air was reviving 
in its effect, and, since it is usual before all new 
experiences to be aware of a curious vivacity and 
eagerness, so / was at bottom quite tranquil. I 
looked attentively at all the festively-Ht houses of 
Petersburg, and said good-bye to each. They drove 
us past your abode, and at Krayevsky's the windows 
were brilliantly lit. You had told me that he was 
giving a Christmas party and tree, and that your 
children were going to it, with Emilie Fyodorovna ; 
I did feel dreadfully sad as we passed that house. I 
took leave, as it were, of the httle ones. I felt so 
lonely for them, and even years afterwards I often 
thought of them with tears in my eyes. We were 
driven beyond Yaroslavl ; after three or four stations 
we stopped, in the first grey of morning, at Schliissel- 
burg, and went into an inn. There we drank tea 
with as much avidity as if we had not touched any- 
thing for a week. After the eight months' captivity, 
sixty versts in a sledge gave us appetites of which, 
even to-day, I think with pleasure. 

I was in a good temper, Dourov chattered inces- 
santly, and Yastrchembsky expressed unwonted 
apprehensions for the future. We all laid ourselves 

^T. 32] TO SIBERIA ! 57 

out to become better acquainted with our orderly. 
He was a good old man, very friendly inclined 
towards us; a man who has seen a lot of life; he 
had travelled all over Europe with despatches. On 
the way he showed us many kindnesses. His name 
was Kusma Prokofyevitch Prokofyev. Among 
other things he let us have a covered sledge, which 
was very welcome, for the frost was fearful. 

The second day was a hohday ; the drivers, who 
were changed at the various stations, wore cloaks 
of grey German cloth with bright red belts ; in the 
village-streets there was not a soul to be seen. It 
was a splendid winter-day. They drove us through 
the remote parts of the Petersburg, Novgorod, and 
Yaroslavl Governments. There were quite insignifi- 
cant little towns, at great distances from one another. 
But as we were passing through on a holiday, there 
was always plenty to eat and drink. We drove — 
drove terribly. We were warmly dressed, it is true, 
but we had to sit for ten hours at a time in the 
sledges, halting at only five or six stations : it was 
almost unendurable. I froze to the marrow, and 
could scarcely thaw myself in the warm rooms at the 
stations. Strange to say, the journey completely 
restored me to health. Near Perm, we had a frost 
of forty degrees during some of the nights. I don't 
recommend that to you. It was highly disagreeable. 
Mournful was the moment when we crossed the 
Ural. The horses and sledges sank deep in the 
snow. A snow-storm was raging. We got out of 
the sledges — it was night — and waited, standing, till 
they were extricated. All about us whirled the 
snow-storm. We were standing on the confines of 
Europe and Asia; before us lay Siberia and the 


mysterious future — behind us, our whole past; it 
was very melancholy. Tears came to my eyes. On 
the way, the peasants would stream out of all the 
villages to see us; and although we were fettered, 
prices were tripled to us at all the stations. Kusma 
Prokofyevitch took half our expenses on himself, 
though we tried hard to prevent him ; in this way 
each of us, during the whole journey, spent only 
fifteen roubles. 

On January 12 (1850) we came to Tobolsk. After 
we had been paraded before the authorities, and 
searched, in which proceeding aU our money was 
taken from us, myself, Dourov, and Yastrchembsky 
were taken into one cell ; the others, Spyechnyov, 
etc., who had arrived before us, were in another 
section, and during the whole time we hardly once 
saw each other. I should hke to tell you more of 
our six days' stay in Tobolsk, and of the impressions 
it made upon me. But I haven't room here. I will 
only tell you that the great compassion and sympathy 
which were shown us there, made up to us, hke a big 
piece of happiness, for all that had gone before. The 
prisoners of former days^ (and stiU more their wives) 
cared for us as if they had been our kith and kin. 
Those noble souls, tested by five-and-twenty years 
of suffering and self-sacrifice ! We saw them but 
seldom, for we were very strictly guarded; still, 
they sent us clothes and provisions, they comforted 
and encouraged us. I had brought far too few 
clothes, and had bitterly repented it, but they sent me 
clothes. Finally we left Tobolsk, and reached Omsk 
in three days. 

1 These were the participators in the coup d'etat of Decem- 
ber 14, 1825 ("Decembrists "), who had been banished to Siberia. 


While I was in Tobolsk, I gathered information 
about my future superiors. They told me that the 
Commandant was a very decent fellow, but that 
the Major, Krivzov, was an uncommon brute, a 
petty tyrant, a drunkard, a trickster-r-in short, 
the greatest horror that can be imagined. From 
the very beginning, he called both Dourov and me 
blockheads, and vowed to chastise us bodUy at the 
first transgression. He had already held his position 
for two years, and done the most hideous and unsanc- 
tioned things ; two years later, he was court-martialled 
for them. So God protected me from him. He 
used to come to us mad drunk (I never once saw 
him sober), and would seek out some inoffensive 
prisoner and flog him on the pretext that he — the 
prisoner — was drunk. Often he came at night and 
punished at random — say, because such and such an 
one was sleeping on his left side instead of his right, 
or because he talked or moaned in his sleep — in fact, 
anything that occurred to his drunken mind. I 
should have had to break out in the long run against 
such a man as that, and it was he who wrote the 
monthly reports of us to Petersburg. 

I had made acquaintance with convicts in Tobolsk ; 
at Omsk I settled myself down to live four years 
in common with them. They are rough, angry, 
embittered men. Their hatred for the nobility is 
boundless ; they regard all of us who belong to it 
with hostility and enmity. They would have 
devoured us if they only could. Judge then for 
yourself in what danger we stood, having to cohabit 
with these people for some years, eat with them, 
sleep by them, and with no possibility of complaining 
of the affronts which were constantly put upon us. 


"You nobles have iron beaks, you have torn us 
to pieces. When you were masters, you injured the 
people, and nov(r, when it's evil days with you, you 
want to be our brothers." 

This theme was developed during four years. A 
hundred and fifty foes never wearied of persecuting 
us — it was their joy, their diversion, their pastime^ 
our sole shield was our indifference and our moral 
superiority, which they were forced to recognize and 
respect ; they were also impressed by our never yield- 
ing to their will. They were for ever conscious that 
we stood above them. They had not the least idea 
of what our offence had been. We kept our own 
counsel about that, and so we could never come to 
understand one another; we had to let the whole 
of the vindictiveness, the whole of the hatred, that 
they cherish against the nobility, flow over us. We 
had a very bad time there. A mihtary prison is 
much worse than the ordinary ones. I spent the 
whole four years behind dungeon walls, and only 
left the prison when I was taken on " hard labour." 
The labour was hard, though not always ; sometimes 
in bad weather, in rain, or in winter during the un- 
endurable frosts, my strength would forsake me. 
Once I had to spend four hours at a piece of extra 
work, and in such frost that the quicksilver froze; 
it was perhaps forty degrees below zero. One of 
my feet was frost-bitten. We all lived together in 
one barrack-room. Imagine an old, crazy wooden 
building, that should long ago have been broken 
up as useless. In the summer it is unbearably 
hot, in the winter unbearably cold. All the boards 
are rotten. On the ground filth lies an inch thick; 
every instant one is in danger of slipping and 


coming down. The small windows are so frozen 
over that even by day one can hardly read. The ice 
on the panes is three inches thick. The ceUings drip, 
there are draughts everywhere. We are packed hke 
herrings in a barrel. The stove is heated with six 
logs of wood, but the room is so cold that the ice 
never once thaws ; the atmosphere is unbearable — 
and so through all the winter long. In the same 
room, the prisoners wash their linen, and thus make 
the place so wet that one scarcely dares to move. 
From twilight till morning we are forbidden to leave 
the barrack-room ; the doors are barricaded ; in the 
ante-room a great wooden trough for the calls of 
nature is placed ; this makes one almost unable to 
breathe. All the prisoners stink like pigs ; they say 
that they can't help it, for they must live, and are 
but men. We slept upon bare boards ; each man was 
allowed one pillow only. We covered ourselves with 
short sheepskins, and our feet were outside the cover- 
ing all the time. It was thus that we froze night 
after night. Fleas, lice, and other vermin by the 
bushel. In the winter we got thin sheepskins to wear, 
which didn't keep us warm at all, and boots with 
short legs ; thus equipped, we had to go out in the frost. 

To eat we got bread and cabbage-soup ; the soup 
should, by the regulations, have contained a quarter- 
pound of meat per head ; but they put in sausage- 
meat, and so I never came across a piece of genuine 
flesh. On feast-days we» got porridge, but with 
scarcely any butter. On fast-days — cabbage and 
nothing else. My stomach went utterly to pieces, 
and I suffered tortures from indigestion. 

From all this you can see for yourself that one 
couldn't live there at all without money ; if I had 


had none, I should most assuredly have perished ; no 
one could endure such a life. But every convict 
does some sort of work and sells it, thus earning, 
every single one of them, a few pence. I often drank 
tea and bought myself a piece of meat ; it was my 
salvation. It was quite impossible to do without 
smoking, for otherwise the stench would have choked 
one. All these things were done behind the backs of 
the officials. 

I was often in hospital. My nerves were so 
shattered that I had some epileptic fits — however, 
that was not very often. 1 have rheumatism in my 
legs now, too. But except for that, I feel right well. 
Add to all these discomforts, the fact that it was 
almost impossible to get one's-self a book, and that 
when I did get one, I had to read it on the sly ; that 
all around me was incessant malignity, turbulence, 
and quarrelling; then perpetual espionage, and the 
impossibihty of ever being alone for even an instant — 
and so without variation for four long years ; you'll 
believe me when I tell you that I was not happy. 
And imagine, in addition, the ever-present dread of 
drawing down some punishment on myself, the irons, 
and the utter oppression of spirits — and you have the 
picture of my life. 

I won't even try to tell you what transformations 
were undergone by my soul, my faith, my mind, and 
my heart in those four years. It would be a long 
story. Still, the eternal concentration, the escape 
into myself from bitter reality, did bear its fruit. 
I now have many new needs and hopes of which I 
never thought in other days. But all this will be 
pure enigma for you, and so I'll pass to other things. 
I will say only one word : Do not forget me,' and do 

^T. 32] OMSK 63 

help me. I need books and money. Send them me, 
for Christ's sake. 

Omsk is a hateful hole. There is hardly a tree 
here. In summer — heat and winds that bring sand- 
storms ; in winter — snow-storms. I have scarcely 
seen anything of the country round. The place is 
dirty, almost exclusively inhabited by military, and 
dissolute to the last degree. I mean the common 
people. If I hadn't discovered some human beings 
here, I should have gone utterly to the dogs. Con- 
stantine Ivanovitch Ivanov is like a brother to me. 
He has done everything that he in any way could for 
me. I owe him money. If he ever goes to Peters- 
burg, show him some recognition. I owe him twenty- 
five roubles. But how can I repay his kindness, his 
constant willingness to carry out aU my requests, his 
attention and care for me, just like a brother's ? And 
he is not the only one whom I have to thank ia that 
way. Brother, there are very many noble natures in 
the world. 

I have already said that your silence often tortured 
me. I thank you for the money you sent. In your 
next letter (even if it's " official," for I don't know 
yet whether it is possible for me to correspond with 
you) — in your next, write as fuUy as you can of all 
your affairs, of EmUie Fyodorovna, the children, all 
relations and acquaintances ; also of those in Moscow 
— who is alive and who is dead ; and of your business : 
tell me with what capital you started it,^ whether it 
is lucrative, whether you are in funds, and finally, 
whether you will help me financially, and how much 
you will send me a year. But send no money with 

* Michael Dostoevsky had at this time a tobacco and cigarette 


the official letter— particularly if I don't find a cover- 
ing address. For the present, give Michael Petro- 
vitch as the consignor of all packets (you understand, 
don't you ?). For the time I have some money, but 
I have no books. If you can, send me the magazines 
for this year, or at any rate the O. Z. But what I 
urgently need are the following : I need (very neces- 
sary) ancient historians (in French translations) ; modem 
historians : Guizot, Thierry, Thiers, Ranke, and so 
forth ; national studies, and the Fathers of the Church. 
Choose the cheapest and most compact editions. Send 
them by return. They have ordered me to Semipala- 
tinsk, which lies on the edge of the Kirghiz steppes ; 
I'll let you have the address. Here is one for the 
present, anyhow : " Semipalatinsk, Siberian Regiment 
of the Line, Seventh Battalion, Private F. Dos- 
toevsky." That's the official style. To this one send 
your letters. But I'll give you another for the books. 
For the present, write as Michael Petrovitch. Remem- 
ber, above all things, I need a German dictionary. 

1 don't know what awaits me at Semipalatinsk. I 
don't mind the service much. But what I do care 
about is — exert yourself for me, spend yourself for 
me with somebody or other. Could they not transfer 
me in a year or two to the Caucasus ? Then I should 
at least be in European Russia ! This is my dearest 
desire, grant it me for Christ's sake ! Brother, do 
not forget me ! I write and scold you and dispose of 
your very property 1 But my faith in you is not yet 
extinguished. You are my brother, and you used to 
love me. I need money. I must have something to 
live on, brother. These years shall not have been in 
vain. I want money and books. What you spend 
on me will not be lost. If you give me help, you 

JET. 32] "MEN ARE— MEN" 65 

won't be robbing your chUdren. If I live, I'll repay 
you with interest — oh, a thousandfold. In six years, 
perhaps even sooner, I shall surely get permission to 
print my books. It may indeed be quite otherwise, 
but I don't write recklessly now. You shall hear of 
me again. 

We shall see one another some day, brother. I 
believe in that as in the multiplication-table. To my 
soul, all is clear. I see my whole future, and all that 
I shall accompUsh, plainly before me. I am content 
with my life. I fear only men and tyranny. How 
easily might I come across a superior officer who did 
not like me (there are such folk !), who would torment 
me incessantly and destroy me with the rigours of 
service — for I am very frail, and of course in no state 
to bear the fuU burden of a soldier's life. People try 
to console me : " They're quite simple sort of fellows 
there." But I dread simple men more than complex 
ones. For that matter, men everywhere are just — 
men. Even among the robber-murderers in the 
prison, I came to know some men in those four 
years. Believe me, there were among them deep, 
strong, and beautiful natures, and it often gave me / 
great joy to find gold under a rough exterior. And 
not in a single case, or even two, but in several cases. 
Some inspired respect ; others were downright fine. 
I taught the Russianr language and reading to a 
young Circassian — he had been transported to Siberia 
for robbery with murder. How grateful he was to 
me I Another convict wept when I said good-bye to 
him. Certainly I had often given him money, but it 
was so little, and his gratitude so boundless. My 
character, though, was deteriorating ; in my relations 
with others I was ill-tempered and impatient. They 


accounted for it by my mental condition, and bore all 
without grumbling. Apropos : what a number of 
national types and characters I became familiar with 
in the prison 1 I lived into their lives, and so I 
believe I know them really well. Many tramps' and 
thieves' careers were laid bare to me, and, above all, 
the whole wretched existence of the common people. 
Decidedly I have not spent my time there in vain. J 
have learnt to know the Russian people as only a few 
know them. I am a little vain of it. 1 hope that 
such vanity is pardonable. 

Brother ! Be sure to tell me of all the most im- 
portant events in your life. Send the official letter 
to Semipalatinsk, and the unofficial — whither you soon 
shall know. Tell me of all our acquaintances in Peters- 
burg, of literature (as many details as possible), and 
finally of our folks in Moscow. How is our brother 
Kolya ? What (and this is much more important) is 
sister Sacha doing ? Is Uncle stiU ahve ? What is 
brother Andrey about ? I am writing to our aunt 
through sister Vera. For God's sake, keep this letter a 
dead secret, and burn it ; it might compromise various 
people. Don't forget, dear friend, to send me books. 
Above all things histories and national studies, the 
O. Z., the Fathers of the Church, and church- 
histories. Don't send all the books at once, though 
as soon after one another as possible. I am dispens- 
ing your money for you as if it were my own ; but 
only because your present situation is unknown to 
me. Write fully about your affairs, so that I may 
have some idea of them. But mark this, brother: 
books are my life, my food, my future ! For God's 
sake, don't abandon me. I pray you ! Try to get per- 
mission to send me the books quite openly. But be 


cautious. If it can be done openly, send them openly. 
But if it can't, then send them through brother 
Constantine Ivanovitch, to his address. I shall get 
them. Constantine Ivanovitch, by-the-bye, is going 
this very year to Petersburg ; he'll tell you every- 
thing. What a family he has ! And what a wife ! 
She is a young girl, the daughter of the Decembrist 
Annenkov. Such a heart, such a disposition— and to 
think of what they've all been through ! I shall set 
myself, when I go to Semipalatinsk in a week, to 
find a new covering-address. I am not quite strong 
yet, so must remain here a while. (Send me the 
Koran, and Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason "), and 
if you have the chance of sending anything not 
officially, then be sure to send Hegel — but particularly 
Hegel's "History of Philosophy." Upon that de- 
pends my whole future. For God's sake, exert your- 
self for me to get me transferred to the Caucasus ; 
try to find out from well-informed people whether I 
shall be permitted to print my works, and in what 
way I should seek this sanction. I intend to try for 
permission in two or three years. I beg you to sus- 
tain me so long. Without money I shall be destroyed 
by military life. So please ! 

Perhaps in the beginning the other relatives would 
support me too ? In that case they could hand the 
money to you, and you would send it to me. In my 
letters to Aunt and to Vera, though, I never ask for 
money. They can guess themselves that I want it, 
if they think about me at all. 

Filippov, before he left for Sebastopol, gave me 
twenty-five roubles. He left them with the Com- 
mandant, Nabokov, and I knew nothing about it 
beforehand. He thought that I should have no 


money. A kind soul ! All our lot are doing not so 
badly in banishment. Toll has done his time, and 
now lives quite tranquilly in Tomsk. Yastr- 
chemsky is in Tara ; his time is drawing to an end. 
Spyechayov is in the Irkutsk Government; he has 
won general liking and respect there. That man's is a 
curious destiny ! Wherever, and in whatever circum- 
stances, he may appear, even the most inaccessible 
people show him honour and respect. Petrachevsky 
is now as then not in his right mind ; MonbeUi . and 
Loov are well ; poor Grigoryev has gone clean out of 
his senses and is in hospital. And how goes it with 
you ? Do you still see a great deal of Mme. 
Plestcheiev ? What is her son doing ? From 
prisoners who passed through here, I heard that he is 
alive and in the fortress at Orsk, and that Golovinsky 
has long been in the Caucasus. How goes your 
literature, and your interest in literature ? Are you 
writing anything? What is Krayevsky about, and 
what are your relations with him ? I don't care for 
Ostrovsky ; I have read nothing by Pissemsky ; 
Drushinin I loathe. I was enchanted with Eugenie 
Tur. I like Krestovsky too. 

1 should like to have written much more ; but so 
much time has gone by that even this letter was 
somewhat difficult to write. But it really cannot be 
that our relation is altered in any respect. Kiss your 
children. Can they remember Uncle Fedya at all? 
Greet all acquaintances — but keep this letter a dead 
secret. Farewell, farewell, dear fellow I You shall 
hear from me again, and perhaps even see me. Yes— 
we shall most certainly see one another again I Fare- 
well. Read attentively all that I write to you. 
Write to me as often as possible (even if officially). 


I embrace you and all yours more times than I can 



P.S. Have you received my children's story,^ that 
I wrote in the fortress ? If it is in your hands, don't 
do anything with it, and show it to no one. Who is 
Tschernov, that wrote a " Double " in 1850 ? 

Till next time ! 




To Mine. N. D. Fonvisin^ 


Beginning of March, 1854. 

At last I am writing to you, my kind N. D., after 
leaving my former place of abode. When I last 
wrote, I was sick in body and soul. I was consumed 
with longings, and I daresay my letter was quite 
senseless. That long, colourless, physically and 
morally difficult life had stifled me. It is always 
grievous to me to write letters at such times ; and I 
regard it as cowardice to force one's sorrow on others, 
even when they are very fond of one. I send you 
this letter indirectly, and I am glad to be able to 
speak with you quite unconstrainedly at last ; all 
the more because I have been transferred to Semi- 
palatinsk to the seventh battalion, and therefore 

'■ He means "The Little Hero." The story did not appear till 
1857 (in the 0. Z., under the pseudonym " M— y."). 

^ Wife of the Decembrist M. A. Fonvisin. Dostoevsky had met 
her in Tobolsk in 1850. During his captivity, when he himself 
was not allowed to correspond with his brother, she was his only 
medium of communication with the outside world. 


don't at all know in what way I ntiay be able to corre- 
spond with you in future. 

[Dostoevsky further discusses the question of how 
he may most safely correspond with his brother and 
with Mme. Fonvisin.J 

With what delight I read your letter, dearest 
N. D. You write quite admirable letters, or, more 
precisely, your letters flow easily and naturally from 
your good kind heart. There are reserved and em- 
bittered natures, which only in very rare moments 
are expansive. I know such people. They are not 
necessarily bad people — quite the contrary, indeed. 

I don't know why, but I guess from your letter that 
you returned home in bad spirits. I understand it ; I 
have sometimes thought that if ever I return home, I 
shall get more grief than joy from my impressions 
there. I have not lived your life, and much in it is 
unknown to me, and indeed, no one can really know 
exactly his fellow-mortal's life ; still, human feeling is 
common to us all, and it seems to me that everyone 
who has been banished must live all his past grief 
over again in consciousness and memory, on his return 
home. It is like a balance, by which one can test the 
true gravity of what one has endured, gone through, 
and lost. God grant you a long Ufe ! I have heard 
from many people that you are very reUgious. But 
not because you are religious, but because I myself 
have learnt it and gone through it, I want to say to 
fyou that in such moments, one does, " like dry grass," 
thirst after faith, and that one finds it in the end, 
solely and simply because one sees the truth more 
clearly when one is unhappy. I want to say to you, 
about myself, that I am a child of this age, a child of 


unfaith and scepticism, and probably (indeed I know 
it) shall remain so to the end of my life. How dread- 
fully has it tormented me (and torments me even' 
now) — this longing for faith, which is all the stronger 
for the proofs I have against it. And yet God gives 
me sometimes moments of perfect peace ; in such 
moments I love and believe that I am loved ; in such 
moments I have formulated my creed, wherein all is 
clear and holy to me. This creed is extremely 
simple ; here it is : I believe that there is nothing 
l ovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, 
more manl y^jand niipre perfect than the Saiviour ; I 
say to myself with jealous love that not only is there 
no one else like Him, but that there could be no one. 
I would even say more : If anyone could prove to me 
that Christ is outside the truth, and if the truth really 
did exclude Christ, I should prefer to stay with Christ 
and not with truth. 

I would rather not say anything more about it. 
And yet I don't know why certain topics may never 
be touched on in society, and why, if anyone does 
introduce them, it makes the others uncomfortable. 
Still, enough of it. I heard that you were desirous 
of travelling somewhere in the South. God grant 
that you may succeed in obtaining permission to do 
so. But will you please tell me when we shall be 
quite free, or at any rate as free as other people ? Per- 
haps only when we no longer need freedom ? For my 
part, I want all or nothing. In my soldier's uniform 
I am the same prisoner as before. I rejoice greatly 
that I find there is patience in my soul for quite a 
long time yet, that I desire no earthly possessions, 
and need nothing but books, the possibility of writing, 
and of being daily for a few hours alone. The last 


troubles me most. For almost five years I have 
been constantly under surveillance, or with several 
other people, and not one hour alone with myself. 
To be alone is a natural need, like eating and drink- 
ing ; for in that kind of concentrated communism one 
becomes a whole-hearted enemy of mankind. The 
constant companionship of others works like poison 
or plague ; and from that unendurable martyrdom I 
most suffered in the last four years. There were 
moments in which I hated every man, whether good 
or evil, and regarded him as a thief who, unpunished, 
was robbing me of life. The most unbearable part is 
when one grows unjust, malignant, and evil, is aware 
of it, even reproves one's-self, and yet has not the power 
to control one's-self. I have experienced that. I am 
convinced that God will keep you from it. I believe 
that you, as a woman, have more power to forgive 
and to endure. 

Do write me a line, N. D. I am now going to a 
veritable desert, to Asia, and there, in Semipalatiask, 
it seems to me that all my past, all memories and im- 
pressions, will leave me ; for the last human beings 
whom I still had to love, and who were like a shadow of 
my past, will now have to desert me. I get so dread- 
fully quickly used to people, and grow into my en- 
vironment so tenaciously, that I never can tear myself 
away, when the time comes, without great pain. I 
wish for you, N. D., that you may live as happily and 
as long as possible I If we ever meet again, we shall 
learn to know one another afresh, and each of us may 
perhaps still have many happy days. I live in con- 
stant expectancy ; I am always rather ill now, and I 
feel that soon, very soon, something decisive must 
happen, that I am nearing the crucial moment of my 


whole life, am ripe for anything that may come — and 
that perhaps something tranquil and bright, perhaps 
something menacing, but in any case something in- 
evitable, closely impends. Otherwise my whole Ufe 
would be a failure. Perhaps it has all been but a 
sick delirium ! Farewell, N. D., or rather au revoir ; 
we'll hope, won't we ? that we shall see one another 
again ! 



P.S. For goodness' sake forgive this untidy, greasy 
letter 1 But on my sacred honour, I can't write with- 
out erasures. Don't be cross with me. 


!Z'o Mme. Maria Dmitryevna Issayev^ 

From Semipalatinsk to Kusnezk 

[in the Tomsk Government], 

June 4, 1855. 

A thousand thanks for your dear letter on the 
journey, my dear and unforgettable friend Maria 
Dmitryevna. I hope that you and Alexander Ivano- 
vitch^ will allow me to call you both friends. We cer- 
tainly were friends here, and I trust we shall remain 
so. Is mere separation to alter us ? I believe not ; 
for the parting from you, my dear friends, lies so 
heavily upon me that by that alone I can judge how 
very much I cling to you. Just imagine : this is the 
second letter I have written to you. I had an answer 
to your dear cordial letter ready for the earlier post, 
dear Maria Dmitryevna, but I never sent it. Alex- 

^ Dostoevsky's future wife. Compare the reminiscences of 
Baron Vrangel, in the Appendix. 
2 The lady's husband. 


ander Yegorovitch,-*- who was to have taken it to the 
post, quite suddenly left for Smyev last Saturday, 
and 1 never heard of his departure till Sunday. His 
servant simultaneously disappeared for two days, and 
the letter remained in my pocket. Hard luck ! I 
am now writing to you again, but know not if this 
letter will get oflF either. Alexander Yegorovitch is 
not back yet. But they have sent a special messenger 
after him. 

Here we hourly expect the Governor-General ; he 
may perhaps be already arrived. It is said that he 
will spend about five days here. But enough of 
that. How did you arrive at Kusnezk? I hope 
and pray that nothing happened to you on the 
way. You write that you are depressed and even ill. 
So I am most anxious about you. The mere move 
caused you such trouble and such unavoidable dis- 
comforts, and now there's this illness added ! How 
are you to bear it all ? I can think of nothing but 
you. You know how apprehensive I am, so you can 
picture my anxiety. My God, how little you — you, 
who might be an ornament to any society — deserve 
this fate with all its petty cares and contrarieties I 
Accursed destiny ! I await your letter with im- 
patience. If only it would come by this post ! I 
went several times to find out if it had ; but Alex- 
ander Yegorovitch is not back yet. You ask me how 
I pass the time, and how I arrange my day without 
you. For a fortnight I have not known what to do 
with myself, so sad am I. If you only knew how 
orphaned 1 now feel ! It is just like the time when 
they arrested me in 1849, put me in prison, and tore 
me from all that I loved and prized. So very much 

^ Baron Vrangel. 



had I grown to you. I never looked upon our inter- 
course as an ordinary acquaintanceship, and now, when 
I no longer have you near me, I begin to understand 
many things. I have lived for five years entirely 
without human relations — quite alone, without a 
creature to whom I could open my heart. But you 
two treated me like a brother. 1 remember that 
from the very first, I felt at home in your house. 
Alexander Ivanovitch could not have been kinder to 
his own brother than he was to me. With my un- 
endurable character, I must have caused you much 
vexation, and yet you both loved me. I recognize it 
and feel it, for indeed I am not quite heartless. You 
are a wonderful woman ; you have a heart of rare 
child-like kindliness, and you were like a sister to me. 
The mere fact that a woman should treat me in so 
friendly a way was a great event in my life. For 
even the best man is often, if I may say so, a block. 
Woman's heart, woman's compassion, woman's sym- 
pathy, the endless , kindness of which we have no 
clear perception, and which, in our obtuseness, we 
often do not even notice — -these are irreplaceable. 
All that I found in you ; even apart from my many 
failings, a sister could not have been kinder and 
more tactful to me than you were. If we did go 
through some violent upheavals, it was always 
because I was ungrateful, and you were ill, ex- 
acerbated, and wounded ; you were wounded be- 
cause the disgusting society-folk neither prized nor 
understood you, and anyone with your energy must 
revolt against all injustice, and that revolt is noble 
and dignified. These are the essential features of 
your character; suffering and circumstances have 
naturally distorted much in you — but, by God, with 


what usurer's interest was any such failing always 
redeemed 1 And since I was not stupid all the time, 
I saw and treasured it. In one word, I had to love 
your house as my very own home — I could not do 
otherwise. I shall never forget you both, and shall 
be ever grateful to you. For I am convinced that 
neither of you has the least idea of aU you did for 
me, and how very necessary to me were just such 
people as you. If I had not had you, I should most 
likely have turned into a block of wood ; but now I 
am a human being again. But enough ; it is not to 
be expressed, least of all in a letter. I curse this 
letter, because it reminds me of our parting ; every- 
thing reminds me of that. In the twilight, in those 
hours when I used to go to you, such grief over- 
whelms me that I could weep if I were at all prone 
to do so ; and I know you would not laugh at my 
tears. Once for all, my heart is so constituted that 
everything it loves and treasures groM'^s deeply rooted 
in it, and when uptorn, causes wounds and suffering. 
I live quite solitary here now, and have no idea what 
to do with myself; everything is spoilt for me. A 
frightful blank ! I have only Alexander Yegorovitch 
now ; but in his company I always feel sad, for always 
I involuntarily compare myself with him, and you 
can easily imagine what that results in. In any case, 
he's away just at present. During his absence I have 
been twice in the Kasakov Gardens, and I did feel so 
sad ! When I think of last summer, when you, poor 
dear, had only one wish, to get out into the country 
so that you might have a breath of fresh air — great 
grief comes over me, and I feel frightfully sorry for 
you. Do you remember how we — you, Alexander 
Ivanovitch, I, and Elena— were once in the Kasakov 

^T. 33] THE PARTING 77 

Gardens ? How vivid was the sense of it, when I went 
there again ! In the Gardens nothing is changed, and 
the seat on which we sat is still standing there. . . . 
And I felt so sad. You write suggesting that I 
should live with Vrangel ; but I don't want to do 
that, for I have several weighty reasons against it. 
First, the question of money. If I lived with him, I 
should of course have to spend much more money 
on rent, servants, and food, for I wouldn't hve at his 
expense. Second: my character. Third: his character. 
Fourth : I have noticed that he is much visited by all 
sorts of people. I don't mean to shut myself off from 
society, but I can't stand strangers. Finally : I love 
solitude, I am used to it, and use is second nature. 
Enough. I have really told you nothing yet. After I 
had accompanied you to the forest and taken leave of 
you under a pine-tree (which I've marked), I returned 
arm-in-arm with Vrangel (who was leading his horse 
by the bridle) to the Pechechonov's hospitable abode. 
It was there that I first realized my desolate state. 
At first I could see your travelling-carriage in the 
distance, then only hear it, and at last it was quite 
gone. We got into the droschky, and sat talking of 
you both and of how you would bear the journey ; 
and it was then that Vrangel told me something that 
greatly rejoiced me. On the day of your departure, 
early in the morning, it appears that Pyotr Michail- 
ovitch suggested that they should spend the whole 
evening together somewhere. Vrangel refused the 
offer, and when Pyotr Michailovitch asked him why, 
he answered : " Because I must see the Issayevs off." 
There were some other people there. Pyotr Michail- 
ovitch asked at once : " Then you know that pair 
very well ?" Vrangel answered somewhat stiffly 


that he had only known you for a short time, but 
thought your house one of the pleasantest possible, 
and that its mistress — that is, you — was a woman such 
as he had seen none to equal since he had been in 
Petersburg, and probably never would see again ; a 
woman " such as you have never seen at all," he added, 
"and I consider her acquaintance the greatest honour." 
This story of Vrangel's gave me extraordinary joy. 
I think the opinion of a man like that, who knows 
ladies in the best society (for in such society he was 
born), is quite decisive. Talking of similar subjects, 
and continually abusing the Pechechonovs, we reached 
the town about sunrise. And the driver, to whom 
we had given no orders, took us straight to my house. 
In this way the proposed tea fell through, of which 
I was very glad, for I was longing to be alone. I 
stayed at home a good while, walking up and down 
in my room, looking at the sunrise, and going over 
the whole past year, which had flown by so rapidly for 
me ; all the memories came up, and I grew very sad, 
thinking of my future. From that day I wander 
about aimlessly, like the Wandering Jew. I go 
scarcely anywhere. Everything seems tiresome. 
I've been once to Grischin's, who is going to Kopal, 
and is now breaking up house (he s going to Vyerny 
too) ; to Mader's, who says I've grown thin ; to 
Schulitchka's (I took him my birthday greetings), 
where I met the Pechechonovs and talked with them; 
1 visit Byelichov now and then ; and finally, go to 
camp for drill. I am frequently ill. How impatiently 
I awaited the return of the Tartar guides 1 Every 
minute I was running to Ordynsky's to find out 
something about it, and so was Silota. I have also 
been once to your house, brought away the ivy (it's 

^T. 33] A BAD OLD WOMAN 79 

here now), and saw the orphaned Surka, who ran to 
meet me, crazy with joy, but will not be induced to 
leave the house. At last the guides came back. 
Your letter, for which I thank you infinitely, was a 
great joy to me. I asked the Tartars many a ques- 
tion. They told me a lot, and praised you above all 
things (everyone praises you, Maria Dmitryevna !). 
I gave them a little money. The next day I met 
Koptyov at Vrangel's. He told me things too, but 
I couldn't ask him about what interested me most of 
all, namely, how your travelling-expenses had worked 
out. The question was too "ticklish." To this 
day I can't imagine how you ever got over the 
j ourney ! How dear your letter is, Maria Dmitryevna 1 
I expected just such an one. It is so full of detail ; 
write me letters like that always. I can see your 
grandmother as if she were before my eyes. The 
bad old woman 1 How she adds to your troubles 
and embitters your life. May she stay with her lap- 
dog to the end of her days ! I hope that Alexander 
Ivanovitch will squeeze that last will and testament 
out of her, without ever letting her enter the house in 
person. She must be made to see that it's the best 
arrangement even for herself; otherwise, she must 
undertake in writing to die within three months (and 
for each month pay 1 ,000 roubles) ; on that condition 
alone should you receive her. Shall you really, with 
your feeble health, be obliged to attend to all the 
lap-dogs ? Such old women are truly unbearable ! 
I read your letter to Vrangel — only parts of it, of 
course. I could not help going once to see Elena : 
the poor thing is so lonely. I am so immensely sorry 
that you were ill on the way I When shall I get a 
letter from you ? I am so anxious ! How were you 


on arrival ? I shake Alexander Ivanovitch mightily 
by the hand, and kiss him. I hope he'U soon write 
to me. I embrace him warmly as friend and brother, 
and wish him better health than he had here. And 
does he mean to be as entirely indiscriminate about 
people in Kusnezk as he was in Semipalatinsk ? Are 
all those fellows really worth associating with, eating 
and drinking with, and, afterwards, taking aU conceiv- 
able basenesses from ? In that way one injures one's- 
self with eyes wide open. What a loathsome lot 
they are, and above all, what a dirty lot! When 
one was in their company, one often felt one's soul to 
be as soiled as if one were in a low dram-shop. I hope 
Alexander Ivanovitch won't be angry writh me for 
my wishes and my advice. Farewell, unforgettable 
Maria Dmitryevna — farewell ! We shall meet again, 
shan't we ? Write to me very often and very much, 
write to me about Kusnezk, about the new people you 
know, and as much as possible about yourself Kiss 
Pasha from me. Farewell, farewell — oh, when shall 
we see one another again ? 



To Mme. Praskovya Yegorovna Annenkov} 


Praskovya Yegorovna ! ^'^°^^'' ^^' ^*^^- 

1 wanted to write to you long ago, and have 
waited so long for a suitable opportunity that I will 
not delay now that one presents itself The bearer 
of this letter, Alexey Ivanovitch Bachirev, is a very 
modest and very excellent young man, a simple and 
honest soul. I have known him now for a year and 

* Wife of the well-known Decembrist Annenkov. 

^T. 34] SYMPATHY 81 

a half, and am sure that I am not mistaken in his 

I shall ever remember the full, cordial sympathy 
which you and your whole excellent family showed 
to me and my companions in misfortune on my arrival 
in Siberia. I think of that sympathy with a quite 
peculiar sense of solace, and shall never, I think, forget 
it. He who has learnt by his own experience what 
" hostile destiny " means, and in certain moments has 
savoured the full bitterness of such a lot, knows also 
how sweet it then is to meet, quite unexpectedly, with 
brotherly compassion. 

It was thus that you showed yourselves to me, and 
I often recall my meeting with you, when you came 
to Omsk and I was stUl in the prison. 

Since my arrival at Semipalatinsk, I have heard 
almost nothing of Constantine Ivanovitch, and the 
much-honoured Olga Ivanovna^; my intercourse with 
Olga Ivanovna will for ever be one of the pleasantest 
memories of my life. Eighteen months ago, when 
Dourov and I left the prison, we spent nearly a month 
in her house. 

You can weU imagine the effect that such intercourse 
must have had on a man who for four years, adapting 
myself, as I did, to my fellow-prisoners, had lived like 
a slice cut from a loaf, or a person buried underground, 
Olga Ivanovna held out her hand to me like a sister, 
and the memory of that beautiful, pure, proud, and 
noble nature will be clear and radiant all my life long. 
May God shower much happiness on her, happiness 
for herself and for those who are dear to her. I should 
like to hear something of her. I believe that such 

^ These were the son-in-law and the daughter of Mme. Annen- 
kov, Constantine Ivanovitch Ivanov, and Olga Ivanovna. 



beautiful natures as hers must always be happy ; only 
the evil are unhappy. I believe that happiness lies in 
a clear conception of life and in goodness of heart, not 
in external circumstances. Is it not so ? I am sure 
that you will understand me rightly, and that is why 
I write thus to you. 

My life goes by somehow or other ; but I may con- 
fide to you that I have great hopes. . . . My hopes 
are based on certain facts ; various people are taking 
the greatest trouble for me in Petersburg, and I shall 
perhaps hear something in a few months. You will 
probably have heard that Dourov has been released 
from military service on account of his health, and 
has now entered the Civil Service. He is in Omsk. 
Perhaps you have news of him. We don't correspond, 
though we keep one another in good remembrance. 

Baron Vrangel, whom you know, sends you 
greeting. I am friendly with him. His is a fine, 
fresh nature ; God grant it may always so remain. 

My profound, entire, and sincere respects to your 
husband. I wish you perfect happiness. Do you 
happen to have heard anything from a certain oracle,^ 
who was consulted during my stay at Omsk ? I 
remember still what a deep impression it made upon 
Olga Ivanovna. 

Farewell, most honoured Praskovya Yegorovna. 

I am sure that we shall meet again, and perhaps quite 
soon. It is my sincere wish. I think with veneration 
of you and all yours. 

I remain, in deepest reverence, 


^ The allusion is to a spiritualistic seance, at which Mme. Ivanovna 
heard an astonishing prophecy with regard to a question of in- 

^T. 34] AN OLD FRIEND 83 

1 had a few lines from Constantine Ivanovitch this 

Though I much esteem the bearer of this letter, 
A. I. Bachirev, I don't confide all things to him. 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov^ 


January 18, 1856. 

I meant to answer your kind letter long ago, my 
dear Apollon Nikolayevitch. As I read it, there came 
to me a breath of the past. 1 thank you a thousand 
times for not having forgotten me. I don't know 
why, but I always had the feeling that you wouldn't 
forget me ; perhaps because I can't forget you. You 
write that much has altered in this interval, and that 
we've both been through many transformations. For 
myself I can answer. I could tell you many interest- 
ing things about myself. But please don't be angry 
with me for writing now in all haste, so that my letter 
must be broken, and even perhaps confused. I am 
feeling just what you felt, as you wrote — the im- 
possibility of expressing one's-self fully after so many 
years, even though one should write fifty pages. One 
must have the word of mouth and the personal con- 
tact, so that one can read the countenance and hear 
the heart speak in the tone. One word, spoken 
frankly, two-by-two, face speaking to face, means 
more than dozens of sheets of writing. I thank you 
most particularly for all you told me about yourself. 

[Here follow some remarks about people with whom 
Maikov was connected.] 

' The well-known author (1821-97). 


Perhaps you have heard something of me from my 
brother. In my hours of leisure I am putting down a 
good many notes of my prison-memories.^ There are 
but few personal details in these sketches, though; 
when I've finished them, and if a really good oppor- 
tunity offers, I'll send you a manuscript copy as a 

[Here follows a cordial recommendation of the 
bearer of this letter. Baron A. Vrangel.] 

You write that you have thought of me warmly, and 
always asked yourself, " To what end, to what. end ?" 
And I too have thought warmly of you, but your 
question " To what end ?" I shall answer not at all ; 
for whatever I might say must necessarily be waste of 
words. You write that you have done a great deal, 
thought a great deal, got a great deal that is new from 
life. It could not have been otherwise, and I'm sure 
that we should now agree in our views. For I too 
have thought a great deal and done a great deal ; such 
unusual circumstances and influences have combined 
in my experience that I have had to undergo, think, 
and weigh far too much, more than my strength was 
equal for. As you know me very well, you'll easily 
believe that in all things I was guided by those con- 
siderations which seemed to me to be just and upright, 
that I never played the hypocrite, and that when I 
took up any particular matter, I put my whole soul 
into it. Don't think, though, that I mean by these 
words to refer to the circumstances which have 
brought me here. I am speaking now of more recent 
experiences ; nor would it be relevant to allude to 
those gone-by occurrences— they were nothing but an 

^ "The House of the Dead," published 1861-62. 


episode, after all. One's views alter; one's heart 
remains the same. I have read your letter through, 
but failed to understand the most essential part of it. 
I mean about patriotism, the Russian Idea, the sense 
of duty, national honour, and all those things of 
which you speak with such enthusiasm. But, my 
friend ! were you ever any different ? For / was 
always inspired by those very emotions and con- 
victions. Russia, Duty, Honour ? Why, I always 
was Russian through and through, and I say it most 
decidedly. What then is " new " about the move- 
ment* which is becoming perceptible around you, and 
of which you write as of a novel tendency ? I tell you 
quite jfrankly that I don't understand you. I have 
read your poem, and thought it exquisite ; I wholly 
share your patriotic emotion, your efforts towards the 
moral emancipation of the Slavs. It is there that 
Russia's mission lies — our noble, mighty Russia, our 
holy mother. How beautiful are the concluding lines 
of your " Council at Clermont "! Whence do you 
draw the eloquence with which you have so magnifi- 
cently expressed those powerful thoughts? Yes — 
indeed I do share your idea that in Russia Europe 
will find her final account ; it is Russia's true mission. 
That was always clear to me. You write that our 
society " seems to be awakened from its apathy." Yet 
you know that our society never does make manifesta- 
tions ; and who shall conclude therefrom that it is 
nerveless ? Once an idea is really made clearly mani- 
fest, and society called upon to examine it — society has 
always grasped it at once. And so it is now : the Idea 
has been grandly, most nationally and chivalrously 
(one must declare that) made manifest — and behold, 
that very political ideal which Peter the Great 


fashioned for us has at once been universally accepted. 
Perhaps you were and are offended by the fact that 
in those strata of society where people consciously 
think, feel, and investigate, French ideas are gaining 
ground ? Undoubtedly there is a tinge of exclusiveness 
in that ; still it is in the nature of all exclusiveness 
instantly to produce its own antithesis. You will 
admit yourself that all reasonable, thinking men — and 
that means, those who set the tone in everything — have 
ever regarded French ideas from a purely scientific 
standpoint, and that even they who most leaned 
towards exclusiveness, remained unchangingly Russian 
throughout. What do you see new in that ? I 
assure you that /, for example, feel so near to all 
Russians that even the convicts never alarmed me ; 
they were Russian, they were my brothers in misfor- 
tune ; and I often had the joy of discovering magna- 
nimity in the soul of a robber and murderer ; but it 
was only because I am Russian myself that I could 
thus understand him. I have to thank my ill-luck 
for many practical experiences, which probably have 
had a great influence upon me ; but I learnt at the 
same time that in my very inmost being I always 
have been Russian. One may be mistaken in an 
idea, but one can't mistake one's heart, and lose one's 
conscience by reason of the mental error — by which I 
mean, one can't act against one's convictions. 

But why am I writing all this to you ? I know 
well that these lines don't in the least express what I 
mean ; then why do I go on writing ? I'll tell you, 
instead, some things about myself. In prison I read 
only very little, for I couldn't get any of the books I 
wanted, though often books of a sort came into my 
hands. Since I've been here in Semipalatinsk, I've 


read rather more ; but still I have no books, not even 
necessary ones, at hand, and time is going by. I 
couldn't at all tell you how very much I suffered 
from not being allowed to write in prison. My 
mental labour comes only thus " to the boil." Some 
things were all right ; I felt it. I planned out in that 
way a great novel, which I consider will be my defini- 
tive work. I was dreadfully afraid that the first 
passion for my work would have gone cold when the 
years had passed, and the hour of realization struck 
at last — ^that passion without which one cannot write. 
But I was mistaken : the figure which I had conceived, 
and which is the basis of the whole book, needed some 
years for its development, and I am convinced that I 
should have ruined all if 1 had then, unready as I 
was, begun the work in the first flush of zeal. But 
even when I left the prison, I did not set to, though 
all was quite ready in my mind. I simply could not 
write. A circumstance, a contingency, which long 
had delayed to enter my life and the;i at last did 
invade it, wholly carried me away, intoxicated me. 
I was happy, I could not work. Later I was to know 
grief and sadness. I lost something which was my 
all. Hundreds of versts now divide us.^ I won't 
speak more precisely, but will perhaps explain all at 
some other time; now I cannot. . . . However, I have 
not been wholly idle. I have done some work ; but 
the carrying-out of my chef dJ oeuvre I have postponed. 
For that I need to be in a more tranquil mood. I 
began for fun to write a comedy ; I invented so 
many droll characters and episodes, and liked my hero 
so much, that I abandoned the form of comedy 
(although I quite enjoyed it) solely that I might 

* The reference is to Mme. Issayev, later Dostoevsky's wife. 


prolong as far as possible the pursuit of this new 
hero's experiences, and my own laughter at him. He 
I is like myself in many respects. In a word, I am 
writing a comic noveP ; hitherto I have been describ- 
ing only separate adventures, but now I've had 
enough of that, and am unifying the whole. 

There's my full report of work ; I can't help writing 
it all to you ; when I talk tmth you, my imforget- 
table friend, I keep thinking of our past. Indeed, I 
was so often happy in your company — how could I 
forget you ? You write of literature — for a year I've 
hardly read anything. I'll give you my impressions, 
such as they are : Turgenev pleases me best ; it is 
only a pity that he's so often unequal to his great 
talent. L. T.^ I like very well, but I have an idea 
that he won't do much (perhaps I'm mistaken, how- 
ever). Ostrovsky I don't know at all ; I've read 
nothing of his, though I've seen many extracts from 
his works in the articles about him. He may know 
a certain section of Russian society very accurately, 
but I don't believe he's an artist. Moreover he 
seems to me a writer utterly without ideals. Please 
try to persuade me to the contrary ; for goodness' 
sake, send me those works of his which you consider 
the best, that I may not be acquainted only with the 
criticisms of him. Of Pissemsky I know only the 
" Swaggerer " and the " Rich Suitor " — nothing else. 
I Hke him very much. He is sane, good-humoured, 
and even naive ; he can tell a story like a master. 
One thing is a pity : he writes too fast. He writes 
much too fast, and much too much. A man should 
have more ambition, more respect for his talent and 
his craft, and more love for art. When one's young, 

1 " Uncle's Dream." 2 l^^ Tolstoy. 


ideas come crowding incredibly into one's head ; but 

one should not capture each and all of them as it flies, 

and rush" to give it forth. One should rather await 

the synthesis, and think more; wait till the many 

single details which make up an idea have gathered 

themselves into a nucleus, into a large, imposing 

picture ; then, and not till then, should one write 

them down. The colossal figures, created by the 

colossal writers, have often grown out of long, 

stubborn labour. But the attempts and sketches 

that go to the picture should not be displayed at all. 

I don't know if you'll understand me 1 But, as far 

as Pissemsky goes, I think that he doesn't hold his 

pen sufficiently in check. Our literary ladies write 

like other literary ladies — that is, cleverly, neatly, 

and with much fluency of expression. Tell me, 

please, why a woman -writer is almost never a 

serious artist? Even the undoubtedly colossal 

artist, George Sand, often spoilt herself by her 

purely feminine traits. . . . During the whole time 

there, I came across many of your short poems in 

the newspapers. ... I liked them greatly. Be 

strong and labour. I'll tell you in confidence, in 

strict confidence : Tyutchev^ is very remarkable, 

but .' . . etcetera. What Tyutchev is it, by-the- 

bye — is it our one ? Many of his poems are excellent. 

Farewell, my dear friend. Excuse the incoherence 

of this letter. One never can say anything properly 

in a letter. On that account alone I can't bear 

Mme. de S^vign^. She wrote much too good 

letters. . . . Who knows? Perhaps I shall some day 

clasp you in my arms again. May God so appoint it ! 

1 Fyodor Tyutchev (1803-73), the most profound of Russian 


For God's sake, show my letter to nobody (really 
nobody) I I embrace you. 

To General E. I. Totleben^ 


March 24, 1856. 

Your Excellency Eduard Ivanovitch ! Forgive 
me for daring to ask your attention to- this letter. 
I fear that when you see the signature and my name, 
which you may indeed have forgotten — though many 
many years ago I had the honour of being known to 
you — you will be angry with me and toss the letter 
aside without reading it. I beg for your indulgence. 
You might well rebuke me if I failed to realize the 
quite unfathomable gulf between my position and 
yours. But I have gone through too many sorrowful 
experiences in my life to be capable of overlooking 
that gulf. I know very well indeed that I have no • 
right whatever to remind you that you once knew 
me, and thus to make even the shadow of a claim on 
your attention. But I am so unhappy that, almost 
against my will, I must yield to the hope that you 
will not close your heart to an unfortunate exile, and 
will grant him a moment's attention. 

I have requested Baron Alexander Vrangel to 
take you this letter. During his stay in Semipala- 
tinsk, he has done more for me than my own brother 
could have done. His friendship made me happy. 
He knows all my circumstances. I begged him to 

1 Eduard Totleben (1818-84), the distinguished soldier and 
engineer ; builder of the fortifications of Sebastopol, which resisted 
the united armies for twelve months. 

^T. 34] PLEADING 91 

take you this letter in person ; he will do so, although 
I could not tell him with any conviction that you 
would receive the letter indulgently. Such doubts 
are easily comprehensible in the heart of a one-time 
prisoner. I have a great favour to ask of you, and 
only a faint hope that you wiU hear me. 

Perhaps you have heard something of my arrest, 
my trial, and the supreme ratification of the sentence 
which was given in the case concerning me in the 
year 1849. Perhaps you also bestowed some attention 
on my fate. I base that supposition on the fact that 
I once was great friends with your brother Adolf 
Ivanovitch — as a child, even, I loved him very 
sincerely. Although of late years I have not come 
in contact with him, I am still sure that he pitied 
me, and perhaps told you something of my sad story. 
I dare not take up your time with an account of my^ 
trial. I was guilty, and am very conscious of it. I - 
was convicted of the intention (but only the inten- 
tion) of acting against the Government ; I was law- 
fully and quite justly condemned ; the hard and 
painful experiences of the ensuing years have soberea 
me, and altered my views in many respects. But 
then, while I was still blind, I believed in all the 
theories and Utopias. When I went to Siberia, I"- 
had at least the one comfort of having borne myself 
honestly before the tribunal, of not having tried to 
shift my guilt on others, and even of having sacrificed 
my own interests, if thereby I thought I could save 
those others. But I was at that time still convinced., 
of the truth of my opinions ; I would not confess all, 
and so was the more sternly punished. Previously/ 
I had suffered for two years from a strange moral 
disease : I had fallen into hypochondria. There was 


a time when I even lost my reason. I was exagger- 
atedly irritable, had a morbidly developed sensibility, 
and the power of distorting the most ordinary events 
into things immeasurable.y But I felt that though 
this disease had had a really evil influence upon my 
destiny, it was nevertheless a poor and even a de- 
grading excuse for me. And I was not so entirdv 
I convinced, either, that it had had that influence^ 
For^ii«e^- these details. Be generous, and hear me 

I went to prison — four sad, terrible years. My 
companions were criminals, men quite without human 
emotions, and with perverted morals ; for those four 
years I beheld nothing uplifting — only the blackest 
and ughest "realities." I had not one single being 
within reach with whom I could exchange a cordial 
word ; I endured hunger, cold, sicknesses ; I suffered 
from the hard labours and the hatred of my com- 
panions the criminals, who bore me a grudge for 
being an officer and a well-born person. And yet 
I swear to you that none of those torments was 
greater than that which I felt when I reahzed my 
errors, and saw that in banishment I was cut off from 
my fellow- creatures and unable to serve them with 
all my powers, desires, and capacities. I know that 
I was punished for my ideas and theories. But ideas 
and even convictions alter, nay, one's very self 
alters ; thus, it is very grievous for me to be now 
expiating things that are no more, that have, indeed, 
actually, in me, turned to their very contraries ; to be 
suffering for my former errors, which I now perceive 
in all their folly — to feel that I have the power and 
the talent to do something which would reaUy atone 
for the worthlessness of my earlier activities, and yet 


to languish in impotence. I am now a soldier ; I am 
serving at Semipalatinsk, and this summer was pro- 
moted to the rank of non-commissioned officer. I 
know that many people felt and feel genuine 
sympathy for me ; they have exerted themselves on 
my behalf, have restored me to hope, and still do 
much to solace me. The monarch is kind and com- 
passionate. Lastly, I know that it goes very hard 
with anyone who undertakes to prove that an unlucky 
man is capable of doing something worth while, if 
the proof should fail. But I can do something worth 
while ; I am not, indeed I am not, without talent, 
feeling, and principle. I have a great favour to ask 
of you, Eduard Ivanovitch. Only one thing troubles 
me : I have not the least right to worry you about 
my affairs. But you have a great noble heart. I 
may say this frankly, for you have recently proved 
it to all the world. Moreover / long since had the 
happiness — longer since than others — of forming for 
myself that opinion of you ; I had long learnt to 
esteem you. A word from you can now accomplish 
much with our gracious monarch, who is grateful to 
you, and loves you. Think of the poor exile, and 
help him. I want to employ myself usefully. When 
one has spiritual and mental powers which one cannot 
turn to account, one suffers deeply from inactivity. 
For the military career I am not fitted. I earnestly 
desire, so far as in me lies, to do my utmost therein ; 
but I am sickly, and feel strongly desirous of another 
sphere of action, more suited to my capabilities. My 
dearest wish would be to be released from military 
service and to enter the civil service somewhere in 
European Russia, or even here; and also to have 
some liberty of choice as to my place of abode. But 


neither form of State service do I regard as the real 
purpose of my life. Some years ago, the public gave 
me a very hearty and encouraging welcome in the 
literary sphere. I very much desire permission to 
publish my works. And there are precedents for 
this : many political offenders have been graciously 
pardoned and given permission to write and print. 
I have always considered the calling of an author to 
be an honourable and useful one. 1 am certain that 
in that sphere alone can I do valuable work ; therein 
1 could attract attention, retrieve my good name, and 
make my life to some extent easier, for I possess 
nothing but this assured, though possibly quite 
modest, literary talent. But I should like to say 
quite frankly : besides the honest desire to change my 
present lot for one that will better correspond with 
my talents, another circumstance, upon which per- 
haps the happiness of my whole hfe depends^ (it is 
a wholly personal matter), has given me courage to 
turn to you and recall myself to your mind. But 
of course I am not asking for everything at once: 
I am asking only for the possibiHty of giving up 
the military, and entering the civil, service. 

Read this my prayer, but do not call me poor- 
spirited. I have suffered much, and by the very fact 
that I have borne so many sorrows have proved ray 
patience and a certain degree of bravery. But now 
I have lost courage — I realize that, myself. I used 
always to think it cowardly to trouble anyone, who- 
ever it might be, with my affairs. And now, I trouble 
you ! But I implore you to have mercy on me. Till 
now I have borne my misfortune patiently. Now I 
have broken down under the weight of circumstances 

^ He hints here at his projected marriage. 

^T. 34] SEBASTOPOL 95 

and have resolved to make this attempt— it is nothing 
but an attempt. I swear to you that the thought of 
writing to you, and importuning you, never occurred 
to me before. It would have been painful and 
difficult to me to recall myself to you. In an 
enthusiastic and wholly unself-seeking spirit, I have 
lately followed your heroic career. If you knew with 
what delight I spoke of you to others, you would 
beUeve me. If you knew with what pride I declared 
that I had the honour of knowing you personally! 
When your glorious deeds were recounted here, I 
was overwhelmed with questions about you, and it 
was a joy to me that I was able to teU of you. I do 
not fear to write this to you. Your deeds are so 
great that even these words can hardly appear as 
flattery. The bearer of this letter will be able to tell 
you how sincere and unself-seeking are my feelings 
towards you. The gratitude of a Russian towards 
him who, at a time of national disaster, crowned the 
terrible defence of Sebastopol with eternal, undying 
glory, is comprehensible enough. I repeat that it 
had not been my intention to trouble you in any 
way. But now, when I have lost all courage, and 
scarcely know to what side I shall turn, I have 
reminded myself how kind, cordial, and natural you 
always were with me. I thought of your ever gallant 
and noble impulses, and began to hope. I asked 
myself if you, who have now attained to so lofty and 
glorious a position, would repulse me, who am fallen 
so low? Forgive my boldness, forgive this long 
(much too long, I realize) letter ; and if you can do 
anything for me, do it, I implore you. And I have 
yet another great request ; don't refuse it me. Recall 
me, sometimes, to your brother Adolf Ivanovitch's 


remembrance, and tell him that I still love him as 
before, and often found him among my memories 
during the four years in prison, when in spirit I 
would live my whole past over again, day by day 
and hour by hour. But he knows himself how dearly 
I love him. I do happen to know that he has lately 
been ill. Is he well again ? Is he alive ? Forgive 
me this request also. But I know not through 
whom I may attain my heart's desire, and so turn 
to ydu. I am aware that this letter is a grave breach 
of discipHne. A common soldier writes to an 
Adjutant-General! But you are generous-hearted, 
and I confide in that. 

With deepest respect and the sincere thanks of a 


I remain 
Your Excellency's most devoted servant, 
Fyodob, Dostoevsky.^ 


To tjie Baron A. E. Vr angel 


April 13, 1856. 

[The letter begins with some not very interesting 
details of Dostoevsky's material circumstances.] 

You write that we political offenders may expect 

^ Totleben's minute ran : " His Majesty is pleased to order me 
to suggest to the Minister of War that Fyodor Dostoevsky be pro- 
moted to the rank of ensign in a regiment of the Second Army 
Corps. Should this not be possible, he is to be transferred to the 
Civil Service with the rank of an official of the fourteenth class ; in 
both cases he is to be permitted to employ himself in literature, 
and is to be given the right to print his works on condition of their 
generally lawful tendency." 

^T. 34] THE NEW TSAR 97 

certain indulgences, which, however, are still kept a 
secret. Do me the kindness, dear friend, to try to 
discover something concerning myself. I must know 
it. If you learn anything, impart it to me without 
delay. About the transfer to the Caucasus I no 
longer think — nor to the battalion at Barnaul, All 
that is unimportant to me now. 

You write that everybody loves the new Tsar. 
I myself idolize him. I must confess that it is a 
great object to me to be promoted ; but I may still 
have to wait a long time for my promotion to com- 
missioned rank ; and I should like to have something 
now, at once, on the occasion of the Coronation 
festivities. The best and wisest would be of course 
that I should ask for permission to publish. 

I think of sending you very soon, privately, a poem 
I have written about the Coronation. 1 might even 
send it "officially." You will be sure to meet 
Hasford.^ He soon starts, of course, for the Corona- 
tion. Could you not persuade him to present my 
poem to the Tsar ? Would it not do ? Tell me too 
up to what time I am safe in writing to you, for if 
you leave Petersburg, my letters might be lost, and 
that would be tiresome. I have already told you 
about my article on Russia. It has turned into a 
regular political pamphlet. Yet I should not like 
to erase a single word of that article. They will 
scarcely allow me to begin my literary activity with 
a pamphlet, however patriotic its contents may be. 
But the article was good, and I was satisfied with it. 
It interested me extraordinarily. Still, I have aban- 
doned the task. For if I can't get permission to 
publish it, why should I have all my trouble for 

^ Governor-General of Siberia. 



nothing? Time is too precious now for me to 
waste it in writing for mere amusement. Besides, 
the political atmosphere has changed. And so, I 
have begun a new article : " Letters on Art." The 
Grand-Duchess Maria Nikolayevna is President of 
the Academy of Arts. I intend to ask permission 
to dedicate this piece to her, and let it then appear 
anonymously. It is the fruit of ten years' delibera- 
tion. I thought it out to the last detail as long ago 
as Omsk. It wiU have many original and burning 
passages, but I can't answer for the execution of the 
whole. Probably many will disagree with me on 
various points. But I believe in my ideas, and that 
suffices me. I should like to ask ApoUon Maikov to 
read it beforehand. Certain chapters contain whole 
pages from the pamphlet. It deals directly with the 
place of Christianity in art. But where shall I bring 
it out ? If I let it appear as a separate pubUcation, 
at most a hundred people will read it, for it is no 
novel, while in a journal I might get paid for it. 
Now, the Sovremennik was always. hostile to me, and 
so was the 3£oskvityanin. In the Roussky Viestnik 
there has appeared the prelude to an article by 
Katkov on Pushkin, where the ideas expressed are in 
disaccord with mine. So there remains only the 
Otetschestvennia Zapiski. But I don't know how 
matters stand with that journal. Would you there- 
fore find out from Maikov and your brother 
whether there is any chance of pubhshing and 
being paid for the article, and tell me what they 
say; just speak of it casually, as it were. The 
principal thing is that the jiovel at which I'm now 
working aiFords me great enjoyment. Only with 
novels shall I ever make a name and attract public 

^T. 36] REGULAR WORK 99 

attention. All the same, it would be wiser to begin 
with a serious article (upon art) and try for per- 
mission to publish such an one ; for nowadays people 
regard a novel as an inferior sort of thing. So I 
believe, at any rate. ... 

[Dostoevsky reiterates his request that Vrangel 
will exert himself on his behalf.] 


To his Brother Michael 


May 31, 1858. 

You beg me, my friend, to send you everything 
I write. I can't remember (my memory is mostly 
very bad now) — I can't remember whether I told you 
that I had approached Katkov {Roussky Viestnik) 
and offered him my co-operation on his paper; I 
promised that this very year I'd write a long tale for 
him if he would at once send me 500 roubles. Four 
or five weeks ago I got those 500 roubles and a very 
sensible and friendly letter from him. He writes 
that he is very glad of my co-operation, and at once 
responds to my request (about the 500 roubles). He 
begs me not to hurry myself in any way, and to write 
only at my leisure. That's splendid. So now I am 
to write a long story for the Roussky Viestnik j the 
only trouble is that I haven't arranged with Katkov 
about payment by the sheet — I wrote that I would 
leave that matter to him. 

I want to write something this year also for the 
Roussky Slovo — not the novel, but a tale. I won't 
write the novel till I've got out of Siberia. I must 


put it off till then. The motive of this book is most 
excellent, the principal figure is new and has never 
yet been done. But as to-day in Russia such a figure 
frequently emerges in actual life (so I conclude from 
the new movements and ideas of which everyone 
seems full), I feel sure that I shall succeed in enrich- 
ing my novel, after my return, with fresh observa- 
tions.^ One ought not to hurry, my friend ; one 
must try to do nothing but what is good. You write, 
my dear fellow, that 1 am reaUy very vaih, and want 
to step forth now with a peculiarly distinguished 
work ; and that therefore I sit patiently on my eggs, 
that the " distinguished work " may be hatched. 
Well, suppose it really were the case: at any rate, 
as I've now dropped the idea of bringing out the 
novel at present, and am working at two stories, 
which will both be only just tolerable, I don't think 
there can be much talk of "hatching." Where on 
earth did you pick up the theory that a picture 
should be painted " straight off," and so forth ? When 
did you come to that conclusion ? Believe me, in all 
things labour is necessary — gigantic labour. Believe 
me that a graceful, fleet poem of Pushkin's, consisting 
of but a few lines, is so graceful and so fleet simply 
because the poet has worked long at it, and altered 
much. That is solid fact. Gogol wrote at his " Dead 
Souls" for eight years. Everything that he did 
" straight off" was crude. People say that in Shake- 
speare's MSS. there is not a single erasure. That's 
why there are so many monstrous errors of taste in 
him. If he had worked more, the whole would have 
come off better. You evidently confuse the inspira- 
tion, that is, the first instantaneous vision, or emotion 

1 The "figure" is Raskolnikov, in "Crime and Punishment." 


in the artist's soul (which is always present), with 
the work. I, for example, write every scene down at 
once, just as it first comes to me, and rejoice in it ; 
then I work at it for months and years. I let it 
inspire me, in that form, more than once (for I love it 
thus) ; here I add, there I take away ; beUeve me 
that the scene always gains by it. One must have 
the inspiration ; without inspiration one can't of 
course begin anything. 

You write that big fees are now being paid in your 
part of the world. Thus, Pissemsky got 200 or 
250 roubles a sheet for his "Thousand Souls." In 
such circumstances one could really live, and work at 
ease. But do you really think Pissemsky's novel 
excellent ? It is mediocre work — possibly a "golden 
mean," but nevertheless mediocre. Come ! is there 
one fresh thing in it — one thing of his own, that never 
before was done ? All has been done before him, and 
done by the most modern writers too, particularly by 
Gogol. His are but ancient words to a new tune. 
" Distinguished work " after foreign patterns — home 
products from sketches by Benvenuto Cellini. It's 
true I've read only the two first parts of the novel ; 
papers reach us very late here. The end of the 
second part is utterly improbable, and entirely bad. 
Kalinovitch, who consciously betrays, is simply im- 
possible. Kalinovitch, as the author had earlier 
depicted him, would have had to offer a sacrifice, 
propose marriage, intoxicate himself with his own 
nobility, and be convinced that he was incapable of 
any deception. Kalinovitch is so vain that he 
couldn't possibly regard himself as a scoundrel. Of 
course he would take his pleasure all the same, spend 
a night with Nastenyka and then betray her ; but 


only afterwards, under the pressure of actualities ; 
and he would assiirfedly solace himself even then, and 
aver that he had acted nobly in this case also. But a 
Kahnovitch who consciously betrays, is repulsive and 
impossible ; that is to say, such a person is possible, 
but he is not Kalinovitch. Enough of this nonsense. 
I am weary of waiting for my leave. 

[Here follow plans for what Dostoevsky will do 
when he gets his leave.] 


To his Brother Michael 


May 9, 1859. 

[At first he talks of his leave, which had been 
granted so long ago as March 18, but of which 
nothing was known in Semipalatinsk till May ; and 
of business matters.] 

You always write me such tidings as, for example, 
that Gontshazov has got 7,000 roubles for his novel, 
and that Katkov (from whom I now demand 100 
roubles a sheet) has offered Turgenev 4,000 roubles 
for his " House of Gentlefolk "- — which means 400 
roubles a sheet. (I have read Turgenev's novel at last. 
It is extraordinarily good.) My friend ! I know very 
well that I don't write as well as Turgenev ; still 
the difference is reaUy not so great, and I hope 
in time to write quite as well as he does. Why 
do /, then, in my need, allow myself to get only 
100 roubles a sheet, while Turgenev, who has 2,000 
serfs, gets 400 roubles ? I am poor, and so must write 


(i8S8), IN ensign's uniform. 

^T. 37] HIS NEW NOVEL 103 

in greater haste and for money ; consequently I have 
to spoil everything I do. 

[Here follow considerations upon the terms which 
Dostoevsky thinks of offering to Kachelyov, editor 
of the Roussky Shvo.'] 

I am now finishing a story for Katkov ^ ; it has got 
quite long — fourteen or fifteen sheets. I have already 
deUvered three-quarters of it ; the rest I shall send in 
the beginning of June. Now hsten, Micha ! This 
story has of course great faults and is, above all, 
extravagantly long ; but I am perfectly certain that 
it has also the greatest merits and is my best work. 
I have been two years writing it (with an interruption 
in the middle, when I wrote "Uncle's Dream"). 
The beginning and the middle are decently worked 
out, but the end was written in great haste. Still I 
have put my whole soul, my flesh and blood, into it. 
1 will not say that I have therein expressed my whole 
self : that would be nonsense. I have much more to 
say. And there is, in this story, far too little of the 
human, that is, the passionate, element (as exemplified, 
for instance, in " A House of Gentlefolk") ; but on the 
other hand it shows forth two colossal types, which I 
have been working at and polishing for five whole 
years ; they are (as I believe) faultlessly drawn; wholly 
Russian types, and such as have been hitherto insuffi- 
ciently studied in Russian Hterature. I know not 
whether Katkov will be able to appreciate the book, 
but if it is coldly received by the public, I shall really 
despair. On this novel I build my highest hopes, 
and, above all, that of the certainty of my literary 

[Henceforth the topic again is money.] 

' " Stepanchikovo Village." 


1 have a frightful character, but not always— only 
at times. That's my solace. 

Fyodob Dostoevsky. 


To Mme. V. D. Constantino 

September 1, 1862. 

My bear and much - honoubed Vaevaba 
Dmitryevna ! 
You have perhaps learnt from my letter to 
Pasha^ that I arrived happy and well in Paris, and 
have settled down here, though I hardly think I shall 
stay long. I don't like Paris, though it's frightfully 
grand. There's a lot to see here, but when one 
undertakes the seeing, terrible boredom ensues. It 
would have been very different if I had come here as 
a student, to learn something : very different, for I 
should have had plenty to do, and should have had 
to see and hear a great deal ; while for a tourist, who 
is merely observing customs, the French are disgust- 
ing, and the town as such is wholly unknown to me. 
The best things here are the wine and the fruit : the 
only things that in the long run don't paU on one. 
Of my private affairs I won't write you anything. 
" Letters are nonsense ; only apothecaries write 
letters."^ I will write only of a certain business 
matter. I have in fact a request to make of you, 
my dear Varvara Dmitryevna. You must know 
that on the way I stopped four days at Wiesbaden, 

^ Dostoevsky's sister-in-law ; sister of Mme. Maria Dmitryevna. 

* Pasha [Paul] Issayev, Dostoevsky's step-son. 

' Quotation from Gogol's " Memoirs of a Madman." 


and of course played roulette. And what do you 
think ? I did not lose, but won ; not, certainly, as 
much as I could have wished, no hundred thousand, 
but still a nice little sum. 

N.B. : TeU this to no one, dear Varvara Dmitry- 
evna. You can't, it is true, tell it to anyone, 
for you don't meet anyone; but I really mean 
Pasha; he is still a little goose, and would per- 
haps imagine that one can make a living out of 
play. He took it into his head lately to be a 
shop-boy, and earn money that way: "and so I 
needn't learn anything," he informed me. " And so " 
he needn't know that Papa frequents gaming-halls. 
Therefore tell him not a word about it. During 
those four days I watched the gamblers closely. 
Several hundred persons took part in the play, and 
only two knew really how to gamble — my word of 
honour ! They were a Frenchwoman and an 
English Lord ; they knew how, and lost nothing, 
indeed they nearly broke the bank. But please don't 
think that, in my joy at having won and not lost, I 
am swaggering, and imagining that / know the secret 
of play. I do know the secret, and it is extremely 
stupid and simple : it consists in controlling one's- 
self the whole time, and never getting excited at any 
phase of the game. That is all ; in that way one 
can't possibly lose and must win. The whole point 
is that the man who knows this secret should have 
the power and capacity to turn it rightly to account. 
One may be ever so intelligent, one may have a 
character of pure iron, and yet one may come to 
grief. Even that philosopher Strachov would lose. 
Blessed therefore are they who do not gamble, who 
detest roulette and look upon it as the height of folly. 


But to the point. I have, dear Varvara Dmitry- 
evna, won 5,000 francs ; or rather, I had won, at first, 
10,400 francs, taken the money home, put it in my 
wallet, and resolved to depart next day and not go 
into the gaming-rooms again. But I did not hold 
out, and played away half the money again. So only 
5,000 francs are left. A part of these winnings I have 
reserved to myself in case of accidents, and the rest I 
am sending to Petersburg : half to my brother, that 
he may put it by till my return, and the other half to 
you, to give or send to Maria Dmitryevna. 

[He then discusses how the money may best be 
sent from abroad, and changed in Russia.] 


To N. N. Strachov^ 

September 18 [30], 1863. 

[Dostoevsky begins by begging Strachov to settle 
his accounts at the office of the Booklover's Library.] 

And Boborykin^ may as well know what is knovra 
already to the Sovremennik and the Otetschestvennia 
Zapiski : that I never in my life have sold a work 
(with the exception of " Poor Folk ") for which I 
have not been paid in advance. I am a proletarian 
among the authors, and if anyone wants my work, he 
must pay me for it beforehand. I myself condemn this 

^ Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov, critic and philosopher (1828- 
96) was a close friend of Dostoevsky and Grigorovitch. He headed 
an embittered political campaign against Nihilism and the material 
tendencies of the 'sixties. 

2 Pyotr Boborykin, a still living popular novelist. At that time 
he was editor of the Booklover's Library. 

^T. 41] " THE GAMBLER " 109 

system. But I have established it once for all, and 
will never abandon it. So now I'll go on : — 

At the moment 1 ha:ve nothing ready. But I have 
(what seems to me) a very good idea for a story. ^ 
The greater part of it is already jotted down on 
scraps of paper. I have even begun the actual 
execution, but in the first place it's too hot here, and 
in the second I don't want to spend more than a week 
in Rome ; how could anyone, staying only eight days 
in a city like Rome, get any writing done ? All the 
going-about tires me extraordinarily. My story will 
depict a typical figure, a Russian living abroad. You 
know of course that last summer there was a great 
deal of talk in our journals about the absentee 
Russian. This will all be reflected in my story. 
And the present state of our interior organizations 
^ill also (as well as I can do it, of course) be woven 
into the narrative. I depict a man of most simple 
nature, a man who, while developed in many respects, 
is yet in every way incomplete, who has lost all 
faith, yet at the same time does not dare to be 
a sceptic, who revolts against all authority and yet at 
the same time fears it. He comforts himself with 
the thought that in Russia there is nothing that he 
can do, and therefore condemns in the harshest 
manner those who would summon the absentee 
Russians back to Russia. I can't tell it all here. 
The character is very vivid (I can literally see it stand- 
ing before me), and when once the story is finished it 
wiU be worth reading. The real idea, though, lies in 
his having wasted all his substance, energies, and 
talents on roulette. He is a gambler, but no common 
gambler, just as the " miserly knight " of Pushkin is 

1 " The Gambler." 


no common miser. (I don't in the least mean to 
compare myself with Pushkin. I only use the com- 
parison for lucidity*s sake.) He is in his way a poet, 
yet he is ashamed of such poetry, for he feels pro- 
foundly its vulgarity, even though the longing, for 
touch-and-go ennobles him in his own eyes. The 
whole story is concerned with his playing roulette for 
fuU three years. 

If my " Dead House " — as a picture of the prison, 
which no one before me had thus psychologically 
displayed — ^greatly interested the pubhc, the new 
story, as a psychological and faithful portrait of the 
roulette-player, will interest them still more. Apart 
from the fact that that kind of work is read 
among us with the deepest interest, one must also 
consider that the gambling in a foreign watering- 
place is notorious, and the chief topic of the absentee 
Russian ; this has, in addition to the rest, a certain 
(though of course inferior) importance. 

In short, I dare to hope that I shall succeed in 
depicting all these most absorbing circumstances with 
feeling, understanding, and not too long-windedly. 
The story may be very good indeed. My " Dead 
House " was really most interesting. And here 
again shall be the picture of a hell, of the same kind 
as that "Turkish bath in the prison." I want to 
do this one too, and I shall take enormous pains 
about it. 

[Henceforth money-matters prevail.] 


To A. P. MilyukmP- 


June, 1866. 

My dear and honoured friend Alexander 
Petrovitch ! 
Katkov is taking the summer air at Petrovsky- 
Park ; Lyubimov (the editor of the Boussky Ftestnik) 
also is taking the air. At the office one only now 
and then comes across the moping secretary, from 
whom one can extract nothing. I did, however, 
succeed in the early days in catching Lyubimov. He 
has had three chapters of my novel already set up.^ 
I proposed to him that 1 should write the fourth 
chapter in less than no time ; the four would make 
exactly half the conclusion of the second part (four 
sheets) ; in the next number they could print four 
more chapters — that is, to the end of the second part. 
Lyubimov, however, almost interrupted me to say : 
" I was waiting to tell you that now, in June and 
July, we can print the novel in smaller portions — in 
fact, we must; one number, even, seeing it's the 
summer season, might have no portion at all. We 
should prefer to arrange that the whole second half 
of the novel appears in the autumn, and the end in 
the December number, for the effect of the novel 
ought to help towards the new year's subscriptions." 
It was therefore decided to pause for yet another 
month. The four chapters (four sheets) will there- 
fore not appear till the July number, and are already 
in proof. 

' See the Reminiscences of Milyukov, in the Appendix. 
* « Crime and Punishment." 


Later, however, it appeared that Lyubimov had 
yet another infamous back-thought : namely, that he 
won't print one of the chapters at all, and Katkov has 
approved of this his decision.^ I was infuriated with 
them both. But they insist on their scheme 1 About 
the chapter in question, 1 myself can't say at ail : I 
wrote it in a positive inspiration, but it may be that 
it's really bad ; however, with them it's not a ques- 
tion of the literary value, but of nervousness about 
the morality of it. In this respect I am in the right ; 
the chapter contains nothing immoral, quite the con- 
trary indeed ; but they're of another opinion, and 
moreover see traces of Nihilism therein. Lyubimov 
told me finally that I must write the chapter over 
again. I undertook to do so, and the re- writing of 
this great chapter gave me at least as much labour 
and trouble as three new ones. Nevertheless I have 
re-written, and delivered, it. Unfortunately I haven't 
seen Lyubimov since, so I don't know whether they're 
satisfied with the new version, or will write it all 
over again themselves. This actually happened to 
another chapter (of these four) : Lyubimov told me 
that he had struck out a great deal of it. (That I 
didn't particularly mind, for they deleted a quite 
unimportant passage.) 

I don't know how it will turn out, but the differ- 
ences of opinion which this novel has brought to hght 
between me and the office, begin to trouble me. 

The novel for Stellovsky^ I haven't yet begun, 

' It is the ninth chapter of the second part of "Crime and 
Punishment"; the scene where Sonia and Raskolnikov together 
read the Gospel had given offence. Dostoevsky was obliged to 
shorten the chapter. 

2 Publisher of the first edition of the "Collected Works" 

^T. 45] MATKOV 113 

but certainly shall begin. I have a plan for a most 
decent little novel; there will even be shadows of 
actual characters in it. The thought of Stellovsky 
torments and disturbs me ; it pursues me even in 

I'm telling you all this very cursorily and in great 
haste, though my letter's long enough. Answer me, 
for God's sake. Write to me about yourself, your 
hfe, your views, and your health. Write to me also 
of our people ; have you perhaps heard some news ? 
I must be silent about many things. My best 
regards to your Ludmilla Alexandrovna ; remember 
me to aU your children, and greet all common 
acquaintances from me. Till next time, my kind 
friend, I embrace you and remain your 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

N.B. I have not had any attacks up to the 
present. I drink schnaps. How does it stand with 
the cholera ? 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikav 

August 16 [28], 1867. 

So long have I kept silence, and not answered your 
welcome letter, my dear and unforgettable friend 
Apollon Nikolayevitch. I call you unforgettable 
friend, and feel deep in my heart that that description 
is just ; we are both such old and accustomed friends 
that life, which sometimes parted us and even separated 
us, not only has not succeeded in really " separating " 
us, but has actually drawn us closer together. You 
write that you feel my absence to a certain extent ; 


much more do I feel yours. Quite apart from the 
fact that every day shows me more clearly the like- 
ness and sympathy between our thoughts and feelings, 
1 1 beg you to observe as well that /, since I lost you, 
have come over into a strange land, where not only 
are there no Russian faces, Russian books, Russian 
thoughts and concerns, but no friendly faces of any 
sort. I truly cannot understand how any Russian 
living abroad, if he be a man of heart and intelligence, 
can fail to notice this, and be made miserable by it. 
Perhaps all these faces are friendly to one another ; 
I can only say that I feel they're not friendly to us. 
It really is so 1 How can people endure this living 
abroad ? By God, without home, life is torture ! 
I can understand going abroad for six months, or 
even a year. But to travel, as I do, without knowing 
or even guessing when one will get home again, is 
very bad and grievous. The mere thought of it is 
hard to bear. I need Russia for my work, /or my life 
(I speak of no life but that). I am like a fish out of 
water ; I lose all my energies, all my faculties. . . .1 
You know in what circumstances I left home, and 
for what reason. There are two principal reasons: 
in the first place, I had to save my health and even 
my life. The attacks were recurring every eight days, 
and it was unbearable to feel and recognize the destruc- 
tion of my nerves and brain. I reaUy was beginning 
to lose my senses — that is a fact. I felt it ; the ruin 
of my nerves often drove me to the very edge of 
things. The second reason is that my creditors 
would wait no longer, and on the day of my departure 
several summonses were out against me. . . . 

[He pursues the topic of his debts.] 

^T. 45] HIS SECOND WIFE 115 

. . . The burden was unbearable. I departed, with 
death in my heart. I had no faith in foreign lands — 
rather, I believed they might have a bad moral effect 
upon me. I was wholly isolated, without resources, 
and with a young creature^ by my side, who was 
naively delighted at sharing my wandering life ; but 
I saw that that naive delight arose partly from inex- 
perience and youthful ardour, and this depressed and 
tormented me. I was afraid that Anna Grigorovna 
would find life with me a tedious thing. For up to 
the present we have been literally alone. Of myself 
I could hope little : my nature is morbid, and I 
anticipated that she would have much to bear from 
me. (N.B. Anna Grigorovna indeed proved herself 
to be of a nature much stronger and deeper than I 
had expected ; in many ways she has been my guar- 
dian angel ; at the same time, there is much that is 
childish and immature in her, and very beautiful and 
most necessary and natural it is, only I can hardly 
respond to it. All this I saw vaguely before our 
; departure ; and although, as I said, Anna Grigorovna 
is finer and stronger than I had guessed, I am not 
even now free from all uneasiness.) Finally, our 
insufficient means caused me much anxiety ; we had 
only a very little money, and owed Katkov an 
advance of three thousand (/) roubles. To be sure, 
I intended to begin work immediately after our 
departure. But what actually came to pass? Up 
to the present I have accomplished nothing, or 
almost nothing, and want now to set seriously to 
work at last. I must confess that I don't feel 
sure I've really accomplished nothing, for I have 
lived through so much, and framed so much in my 

* His second wife, Anna Grigorovna, born Snitkin. 


mind ; still, in hlack and white I have set down very 
little as yet ; and only what stands written in black 
and white is valid and money-making. 

We left tedious Berlin as soon as we could (I could 
only stop one day there, for the tiresome Germans 
made me nervous and irascible, and I had to take 
refuge in the Russian baths), and went to Dresden. 
In Dresden we took lodgings and installed ourselves 
for a time. 

The effect was very singular ; instantly this question 
presented itself to me : Why am I in Dresden, just 
Dresden, and not in any other town ; and why on 
earth had I to leave one place and go to another? 
The answer was most clear (my health, the debts, 
etc.). But worse is the clear perception that now 
1 don't in the least care where I may have to dwell. 
In Dresden or another town — everywhere, in foreign 
lands, I feel like a shce cut from the loaf. I had 
meant to set to work the very first day, but I felt 
that I could not possibly work there, that all my 
impressions were topsy-turvy. What did I do ? I 
vegetated. I read, vn-ote a few hnes now and then, 
nearly died of home-sickness, and, later, of heat. The 
days went monotonously by. . . . 

I can't possibly tell you all my thoughts. I collected 
many impressions. I read Russian newspapers and 
solaced myself thus. I felt eventually that so many 
new ideas had been garnered up that I could write 
a long article on Russia's relations to Western Europe, 
and on the upper classes of Russian society. I should, 
indeed, have had plenty to say ! The Germans got 
on my nerves ; and our Russian way of living, the 
life of the upper classes, the faith in Europe and 
civilization in which those upper classes are steeped— 


all that got on my nerves also. The incident in Paris 
upset me frightfully, i Impressive, weren't they ? the 
Paris lawyers who cried " Vive la Pologne !" Faugh, 
how nauseous, how stupid, how insipid ! I felt more 
than ever confirmed in my view that it is rather 
advantageous for us that Europe does not know us 
in the least, and has such a disgusting idea of us. 
And then the details of the proceedings against 
Beresovsky ! How ugly, how empty ; I can't imagine 
how they can ever recover from such twaddle, and get 
on to the next point ! 

Russia, seen from here, looks to a Russian much 
more plastic. On the one hand is the rare fact that 
our people have shown such unexpected independence 
and maturity in the initiation of reforms (as, for 
example, the judicial ones) ; on the other there is that 
news of the flogging of a merchant of the first guUd 
in the Orenburg Government by the Chief of Police. 
One thing is clear : that the Russian people, thanks 
to its benefactor and his reforms, is at last in such 
a situation that it must of necessity accustom itself 
to affairs and self-criticism ; and that's the principal 
thing. By God, our age, in regard to reforms and 
changes, is almost as important as that of Peter the 
Great. How goes it with the railways ? We must 
get down as quickly as possible to the south ^ ; this is 
tremendously important. Before then, we must have 
equitable tribunals everywhere : how great will be the 
transformation ! (I, over here, keep thinking of aU 
these things, and my heart beats fast). I see hardly 
anyone here ; it is quite impossible, though, not to 

^ Beresovsky's attempt upon the life of Alexander II. 
2 Here Dostoevsky refers to Russia's efforts to get down to the 
Bosphorus and Constantinople. 


come across somebody or other. In Germany I met 
a Russian who always lives abroad ; he goes to Russia 
for about three weeks each year, and then returns to 
Germany, where he has a wife and family ; they have 
all become German through and through. Among 
other things I asked him : " Why actually did you 
leave home ?" He answered me hotly and curtly : 
"Because here is civilization, and with us is bar- 
barism." This gentleman belongs to the Young 
Progressives, but seems to keep himself aloof from 
them all to some extent. What snarling, peevish 
curs all these absentees do become ! 

At last, Anna Grigorovna and I could no longer 
bear our home-sickness in Dresden. . . . We decided 
to spend the winter somewhere in Switzerland or 
Italy. But we had no money at all. What we had 
brought with us was all spent. I wrote to Katkov, 
described my situation, and begged him for a further 
advance of 500 roubles. And what do you think: he 
sent me the money ! What an excellent feUow he is ! 
So we came to Switzerland. Now I am going to 
confess to you my baseness and my shame. 

My dear Apollon Nikolayevitch, I feel that I may 
regard you as my judge. You have heart and feeling, 
as I have always, and of late freshly, been convinced ; 
and therefore I have ever prized your judgment 
highly. I don't suffer in confessing my sins to you. 
What I write you to-day is meant for you alone. 
Deliver me not to the judgment of the mob. 

When I was travelling in the neighbourhood of 
Baden-Baden, I decided to turn aside and visit the 
place. I was tortured by a seductive thought: 
10 louis-d'or to risk, and perhaps 2,000 francs to win ; 
such a sum would suffice me for four months, even 

^T. 45] GAMBLING 119 

with the expenses that I have in Petersburg. The 
vile part of it is that in earUer years I had occasionally 
won. But the worst is that I have an evil and 'exag- 
geratedly passionate nature. In all things I go to 
the uttermost extreme ; my life long I have never 
been acquainted with moderation. 

The devil played his games with me at the be- 
ginning; in three days I won, unusually easily, 
4,000 francs. Now I'll show you how I worked 
matters out : on the one hand, this easy gain — from 

100 francs I had in three days made 4,000 ; on 

the other, my debts, my summonses, my heartfelt 
anxiety and the impossibility of getting back to 
Russia ; in the third place, and this is the principal 
point, the play itself. If you only knew how it draws 
one on ! No — I swear to you it was not the love of 
winning alone, though I actually needed the money 
for the money's sake. Anna Grigorovna implored me 
to be contented with the 4,000 francs, and depart at 
once. But that easy and probable possibility of 
bettering my situation at one blow ! And the many 
examples ! Apart from my own gains, I saw every 
day how the other gamblers won from 20,000 to 
30,000 francs (one never sees anyone lose). Why 
should those others do better than I ? I need the 
money more than they do. I risked again, and lost. 
I lost not only what I had won, but also my own 
money down to the last farthing; I got feverishly 
excited, and lost all the time. Then I began to pawn 
my garments. Anna Grigorovna pawned her last, 
her very last, possession. (That angel! How she 
consoled me, how she suffered in that cursed Baden, 
in our two tiny rooms above the blacksmith's forge, 
the only place we could aiford !) At last I had had 


enough ; everything was gone, (How base are these 
Germans ! They are all usurers, rascals, and cheats ! 
When our landlady saw that we could not leave, 
having no money, she raised our prices !) At last we 
had to save ourselves somehow and flee from Baden. 
I wrote again to Katkov and begged him for 
500 roubles (I wrote nothing of the circumstances, 
but as the letter came from Baden, he probably 
guessed the state of affairs). And he sent me the 
money ! He did really ! So now I have had alto- 
gether from the Boussky Kiestnik 4,000 roubles in 

Now to end my Baden adventures : we agonized 
in that hell for seven weeks. Directly after my 
arrival there, I met Gontscharov at the railway- 
station. At first Ivan Alexandrovitch was cautious 
before me. That State-Councillor — or State-Council- 
lor that ought-to-be — was also occupied in gambling. 
But when he realized that it could not be kept a 
secret, and as I myself was playing with gross pub- 
licity, he soon ceased to pretend to me. He played 
with feverish excitement (though only for small 
stakes). He played during the whole fortnight that 
he spent in Baden, and lost, I think, quite a good 
deal. But God give this good feUow health ; when 
I had lost everything (he had, however, seen me with 
large sums in my hands), he gave me, at my request, 
60 francs. Certainly he lectured me terribly at the 
same time, because 1 had lost all, and not only half, 
like him ! 

Gontscharov talked incessantly about Turgenev ; I 
kept putting off my visit to him — still, eventually I 
had to call. I went about noon, and found him at 
breakfast. I'll tell you frankly — I never really liked 


that man. The worst of it is that since 1857,' at 
Wiesbaden, I've owed him 50 dollars (which even 
to-day I haven't yet paid back !). I can't stand the 
aristocratic and pharisaical sort of way he embraces 
one, and offers his cheek to be kissed. He puts on 
monstrous airs ; but my bitterest complaint against 
him is his book " Smoke." He told me himself that 
the leading idea, the point at issue, in that book, is 
this : " If Russia were destroyed by an earthquake 
and vanished from the globe, it would mean no loss 
to humanity — it would not even be noticed." He 
declared to me that that was his fundamental view of 
Russia. I found him in irritable mood ; it was on 
account of the failure of " Smoke." I must tell you 
that at the time the full details of that failure were 
unknown to mcv I had heard by letter of Strachov's 
article in the O. Z., but I didn't know that they had 
torn him to pieces in all the other papers as well, and 
that va. Moscow, at a club, I believe, people had 
collected signatures to a protest against " Smoke." 
He told me that himself. Frankly, I never could 
have imagined that anyone could so naively and 
clumsily display all the wounds in his vanity, as 
Turgenev did that day ; and these people go about 
boasting that they are atheists. He told me that her 
was an uncompromising atheist. My God I It is to 
Deism that we owe the Saviour — that is to say, the 
conception of a man so noble that one cannot grasp it 
without a sense of awe — a conception of which one 
cannot doubt that it represents the undying ideal of 
mankind. And what do we owe to these gentry — 
Turgenev, Herzen, Utin, Tchernychevsky ? In 
place of that loftiest divine beauty on which they 

^ An error. He can refer only to the year 1862 or 1863. 


spit, we behold in them such ugly vanity, such un- 
ashamed susceptibility, such ludicrous arrogance, that 
it is simply impossible to guess what it is that they 
hope for, and who shall take them as guides. He 
frightfully abused Russia and the Russians. But I 
have noticed this : all those Liberals and Progressives 
who derive chiefly from Bielinsky's school, find their 
pleasure and satisfaction in abusing Russia. The 
difference is that the adherents of Tchemychevsky 
merely abuse, and in so many words desire that 
Russia should disappear from the face of the earth 
{that, first of all !). But the others declare, in the 
same breath, that they love Russia. And yet they 
hate everything that is native to the soU, they 
delight in caricaturing it, and were one to oppose 
them with some fact that they could not explain 
away or caricature, — any fact with which they were 
obliged to reckon — they would, 1 believe, be pro- 
>.foundly unhappy, annoyed, even distraught. And 
I've noticed that Turgenev — and for that matter aU 
who live long abroad — have no conception of the true 
facts (though they do read the newspapers), and have 
so utterly lost all affection and understanding for 
Russia that even those quite ordinary matters which 
in Russia the very Nihilists no longer deny, but only 
as it were caricature after their manner — these fellows 
cannot so much as grasp. Amongst other things he 
told me that we are bound to crawl in the dust before 
the Germans, that there is but one universal and 
irrefutable way — that of civilization, and that all 
attempts to create an independent Russian culture 
are but folly and pigheadedness. He said that he was 
writing a long article against the Russophils and Slave- 


phils. I advised him to order a telescope from Paris 
for his better convenience. " What do you mean ?" he 
asked. " The distance is somewhat great," I rephed ; 
" direct the telescope on Russia, and then you will be 
able to observe us ; otherwise you can't really see 
anything at all." He flew into a rage. When I saw 
him so angry, I said with well-simulated naivete : 
" ReaUy I should never have supposed that all the 
articles derogatory to your new novel could have dis- 
composed you to this extent ; by God, the thing's not 
worth getting so angry about. Come, spit upon it all !" 
" I'm not in the least discomposed. What are you 
thinking of ?" he answered, getting red. 

I interrupted him, and turned the talk to personal 
and domestic matters. Before going away, I brought 
forth, as if quite casually and without any particular 
objfect, all the hatred that these three months have 
accumulated in me against the Germans. " Do you 
know what swindlers and rogues they are here? 
Verily, the common people are much more evil and 
dishonest here than they are with us ; and that they 
are stupider there can be no doubt. You are always 
talking of civilization ; with what has your ' civiliza- 
tion' endowed the Germans, and wherein do they 
surpass us ?" He turned pale (it is no exaggeration), 
and said : " In speaking thus, you insult me person- 
ally. You know quite well that I have definitely 
settled here, that I consider myself a German and 
not a Russian, and am proud of it." I answered: 
" Although I have read your ' Smoke,' and have just 
talked with you for a whole hour, I could never 
have imagined that you would say such a thing. 
Forgive me, therefore, if I have insulted you." 


Then we took leave of one another very poUtely, 
and I promised myself that I would never again 
cross Turgenev's threshold. The next day, Turgenev 
came at exactly ten o'clock in the morning to my 
abode, and left his card with the landlady. But as I 
had told him the day before that I never saw anyone 
till noon, and that we usually slept till eleven, I 
naturally took his ten-o'clock call as a hint that he 
doesn't wish to see any more of me. During the 
whole seven weeks, I saw him only once more, at the 
railway-station. We looked at one another, but no 
greeting passed. The animosity with which I speak 
of Turgenev, and the insults we oiFered one another, 
will perhaps strike you unpleasantly. But by God, 
I can no other ; he offended me too deeply with his 
amazing views. Personally, I really feel httle aifected, 
though his uppish manners are quite disagreeable 
enough in themselves ; but I simply can't stand by 
and listen when a traitor who, if he chose, could be 
of service to his country, abuses Russia in the way he 
does. His tail-wagging to the Germans, and his 
hatred for the Russians, I had noticed already — 'four 
years ago. But his present rage and fiiry against 
Russia arises solely, solely, from the failure of " Smoke," 
and from the fact that Russia has dared refuse to 
hail him as a genius. It is nothing but vanity, and 
therefore all the more repxilsive. 

Hear now, my friend, what I have in view. Of 
course it was vile in me to gamble away so much. 
But I have lost a relatively small sum of my own 
actual money. Still, it would have lasted us for two 
months — in our present mode of living, even for four. 
I have already told you that I can't resist winning. 
If, right at the beginning, I had lost the ten louis- 


d'or that I chose to stake, I should certainly have 
played no more, and gone away at once. But the 
gain of 4,000 francs destroyed me. The temptation 
of winning more (which appeared so easy) and in 
that way paying all my debts, and being able to 
provide for myself and mine — Emilie Fyodorovna, 
Pasha, and the others ... it was too much for me, 
I could not resist it. But even this is no excuse, for 
I was not alone. I had with me a young, warm- 
hearted, pretty creature who trusted me, whom 1 
should have protected and sheltered, and whom 
consequently I ought not to have dragged down 
with myself to destitution, by setting my entire, 
though certainly not very great, possessions upon the 
turn of a game. My future appears to me very 
dark; above all, I cannot, for the reasons I have 
mentioned, return to Russia ; and most heavily am I 
oppressed by the question : What is to become of 
those who depend on my help ? All these thoughts 
murder me. . . . 

You alone, my dear friend, are kind to me; you 
are my Providence. Help me in the future, too. 
For in all my great and small matters, I shall call 
upon your aid. 

You well understand the basis of all my hopes : it 
is clear that only under one condition can everything 
be arranged so as to bring forth fruit — namely, that 
my novel really succeeds. To that I must devote all 
my powers. Ah, my dear fellow, how grave, how 
unendurably grave it was for me, three years ago, to 
yield to the crazy hope that I should be able to pay 
all those debts, and therefore to sign the many bills 
of exchange. Whence shall I draw the needful 
energy and vitality ? Experience indeed has shown 


that I can make a success ; but what are the con- 
ditions ? These alone : that every one of my works 
so succeeds as to awaken the keenest public interest ; 
else all goes crash. And is that really possible ? Is 
there any use in reckoning on it ? . . . 

[The letter ends with a request for a loan and a 
further description of Dostoevsky's desperate situ- 


To his Niece, Sofia Alexandrovna 

September 29 [October 11], 1867. 

Good-day, my dear friend Sonetchka. Don't be 
cross with me for my far too long silence — nor with 
Anna Grigorovna. A. G. has had a letter to you 
ready for a week and more, but she wUl not send it 
with this, for she wants to add something to it. 
Frankly, I want to entice an answer from you. We 
are so frightfully bored here in Geneva that every 
letter you write to us will be reckoned as a good deed 
to you in Heaven. Moreover, you know yovu-self how 
very much I love you, and how deeply interested I 
am in everything that happens in your life. We 
arranged our trip very stupidly. We ought to have 
had more money, so that we could change our place 
of abode as often as we wished. We have had to 
turn our travels into a stay abroad, instead of a tour 
through Europe. 

Life abroad, wherever it may be, is very tiresome. 
As it was very expensive and very dusty in Paris, and 
as the summer in Italy was very hot, and cholera was 


cropping up there, we have spent this summer in 
different parts of Germany, which we chose according 
to the beauty of the scenery and the goodness of the 
air. Everywhere it was tiresome, everywhere the 
scenery was fine, and everywhere I had fairly good 
health. I was most particularly glad that Anna 
Grigorovna did not feel bored at all, though I am not 
an over-agreeable companion, and we have lived six 
months at a time together without friends or acquaint- 
ance. In that time we refreshed many of our old 
memories, and I swear to you that we would have 
enjoyed ourselves ten times better if we had spent the 
summer, not in foreign lands, but at Lublin, near you. 
Anna Grigorovna has developed a great talent for 
travelling ; wherever we went, she discovered every- 
thing that was worth seeing, and at once wrote down 
her impressions ; she has filled countless little notcr- 
books and so on with her hieroglyphics ; unfortu- 
nately she did not see half enough, even so. At last 
the autumn arrived. Our money no longer sufficed 
for a trip to Italy, and there were other hindrances 
besides. We thought of Paris, and later regretted 
much that we had not gone there, instead of to 
Geneva. I had already, it is true, been three times 
at Geneva, but had never stayed there long, and so 
knew nothing of the climate of the town : the 
weather changes at least three times a day, and I have 
had my attacks again, just as in Petersburg. Never- 
theless I must work, and must stop at least five 
months at Geneva. I am very seriously attacking a 
novel (which I shall give myself the pleasure of 
dedicating to you, that is, Sonetchka, Sofia Alexan- 
drovna Ivanovna, as I long since decided) ; 1 am 
going to publish it in the Roussky Viestnik. I don't 


know whether I shall bring it off; my God, if it 
weren't for my poverty, I should never have made up 
my mind to publish it now — that is, in these days of 
ours. The sky is so overcast. Napoleon has declared 
that already he perceives several black marks on his 
horizon. To settle the Mexican, the Itahan, and, 
chiefest of all, the German questions, he will have 
to divert public attention by a war, and win the 
French to himself by the old method — a successful 
campaign. But though the French of to-day are 
probably not thus to be beguiled, a war is nevertheless 
very hkely. You will already have seen this yourself 
(do you, by the way, read some newspapers? For 
God's sake, do ! Nowadays they must be read, not 
only because it is the mode, but so as to trace the ever 
more decisively and strikingly evident connection of 
great and small events). But if war does break out, 
artistic wares wiU fall considerably in price. This is 
a very important contingency, which of itself makes 
me thoughtful. With us in Russia, indeed, there has 
lately been apparent, even without war, a great in- 
difference to artistic things. Most of all I dread 
mediocrity : a work should either be very good or 
very bad, but, for its life, not mediocre. Mediocrity 
that takes up thirty printed sheets is something quite 

I beg you, dear, to write me as fully as possible 
about everything that has happened to you and 
yours in these six months. What have you — I mean 
you, yourself — been doing, and what are your plans ? 
We shall have to tnake ours very much the same. 
My passport is good only for six months, but I shall 
have to stay here six months longer, or perhaps even 
more. It depends on purely business matters. And 


yet I should like to get back to Russia, and that for 
many reasons. In the first place, I should then have 
a fixed place of abode. Moreover, after my return, I 
should decidedly like to edit something in the shape 
of a paper. ^ (I think I have spoken before to you 
of this; the form and scope of the undertaking I 
now see quite clearly in my mind's eye.) Now for 
that, I must be at home, where I can hear everything 
with my own ears and see it with my own eyes. For 
the rest, I'm glad that I now have some work on 
hand ; if I hadn't, I should die of ennui ; whether, 
when the novel is finished (which it may not be for a 
long time), I shall begin anything else in these foreign 
lands, I really don't know. I simply can't understand 
the Russian "tourists," who often stay here three 
years. A trip abroad may be useful, and even enjoy- 
able, if it lasts about six months, and if one stays 
nowhere longer than a fortnight and keeps continually 
on the go. And one might really get well on such 
a trip. But there are people who live here long 
with then: families, educate their children here, forget 
the Russian language, and finally, when they are at 
the end of their resources, return home, and set up to 
instruct us, instead of learning from us. Yes ; here 
they stay mouldering, and then need a whole year to 
get used to things at home and fall into the right 
groove again. In particular a writer (unless he's a 
scholar or a specialist) can't possibly stay long. In 
our craft, truth is the chief thing ; but here one can 
see only Swiss truth. 

Geneva lies on the Lake of Geneva. The lake is 
wonderful, its shores are picturesque, but Geneva 

* "The Diary of a Writer." (This plan was carried out in 


itself is the essence of tedium. It is an old Protestant 
town, and yet one sees countless drunken people 
everywhere. When I arrived here, the Peace Con- 
gress was just beginning, to which Garibaldi himself 
came. He went away immediately afterwards. It 
was really incredible how these socialist and revolu- 
tionary gentlemen, whom hitherto I had known only 
from books, sat and flung dovsm lies from the platform 
to their audience of five thousand! It's quite 
indescribable. One can hardly realize, even for one's- 
self, the absurdity, feebleness, futUity, disunion, and 
the depth of essential contradictoriness. And it is 
this rabble which is stirring up the whole unfortunate 
working-class ! It's too deplorable. That they may 
attain to peace on earth, they want to root out the 
Christian faith, annihilate the Great Powers and cut 
them up into a lot of small ones, abolish capital, 
declare that all property is common to all, and so 
forth. And all this is affirmed with no logical 
demonstration whatever ; what they leamt twenty 
years ago, they are stiU babbling to-day. Only when 
fire and sword have exterminated everything, can, in 
their belief, eternal peace ensue. But enough of this. 
I shall most certainly answer your letters, dear, by 
return of post. 

Your very loving 

Fyodor Dostoevsky 

^T. 46] THE GENEVESE 131 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 


October 9 [21], 1867. 

[At first he talks of his want of money.] 
As far as I personally am concerned, I don't care 
at all where I spend the next five months, for I 
intend to work for at least that time. But though 
that is so, Geneva is nevertheless detestable, and I 
deceived myself grossly in regard to it. My attacks 
recur every week here ; and also I sometimes have 
a peculiar, very troublesome fluttering of the heart. 
It is a horrible town, like Cayenne. There are 
storms that last for days, and even on the most 
normal days the weather changes three and four 
times. And this I have to endure — I, with my 
hemorrhoids and epilepsy ! And then, it's so 
gloomy, so depressing ! And the people are so self- 
satisfied and boastful ! It is the mark of quite 
peculiar stupidity to be so self-satisfied. Everything 
is ugly here, utterly rotten, and expensive. The 
people are always drunk ! Even in London there 
are not so many rowdies and "drunks." Every 
single thing, every post in the street, they regard as 
beautiful and majestic. " Where is such-and-such a 
street ?" one asks. " Voyez, monsieur, vous irez tout 
droit, et quand vous passerez pres de cette majestueuse 
et MSgante fontaine en bronze, vous prendrez," etc. 
The "majestueuse et elegante fontaine" is an insig- 
nificant and tasteless object in the rococo style ; but a 
Genevese must always boast, even if you only ask him 
the way. They've made a little garden out of a few 


bushes (there's not a single tree in it), about as big as 
two of the front gardens that one sees in Sadovaya 
Street in Moscow ; but they must needs photograph 
it, and sell the pictures as a view of "the English 
Garden at Geneva." The devil run away with the 
humbugs ! And all the while there lies, only two 
and a half hours from Geneva on the same lake, the 
town of Vevey, where, I am told, the climate in 
winter is very healthy and even pleasant. Who 
knows — perhaps we shall move over there, one of 
these days. Nothing depends on me now. Let come 
what come will. 

Of my work I will write you nothing, for I have 
nothing to say about it as yet. Only one thing : I 
have to go at it hard, veiy hard indeed. In the 
intervals, my attacks rob me of aU vitality, and after 
each one, I can't collect my thoughts for at least four 
days. And how well I was, at first, in Germany! 
This confounded Geneva ! I don't know what on 
earth wUl become of us. And the novel is my one 
means of salvation. The worst of it is that it must 
absolutely come oflf". Nothing less will do. That's a 
sine qua nan. But how can it, when all my capabili- 
ties are utterly crippled by my malady ! I stiU have 
my power of vision intact; of late my work has 
shown me that. And nerves I have still. But I 
have lost all memory. In short, I must take this 
book by storm, fling myself on it head foremost, and 
stake all on the hazard of the die, come what may I 
Enough of that. 

I read the news about Kelsiyev^ with much emo- 

* V. Kelsiyev, a political 6migr6, and collaborator with Herzen. 
He came back to Russia penitent, and became a collaborator on the 
extremely conservative Roussky Viestnik. 


tion. That's the right way, that's truth and reason ! 
But be you very sure of this— that (of course except- 
ing the Poles) all our Liberals of socialistic leanings 
will rage like wild beasts. It will thrill them to the 
marrow. They'll hate it worse than if all their noses 
had been cut off. What are they to say now, whom 
now shall they bespatter ? The most they can do is 
to gnash their teeth; and everyone at home quite 
understands that. Have you ever yet heard a 
sensible idea from any of our Liberals ? They can 
but gnash their teeth, at any time; and indeed it 
mightily impresses school-boys. Of Kelsiyev, it will 
now be maintained that he has denounced them all. 
By God, you'll see that I am right. But can anyone 
"denounce" them, I ask you? In the first place, 
they have themselves compromised themselves; in 
the second — who takes the slightest interest in them ? 
They're not worth denouncing ! . . . 

[Again he writes of money and business matters.] 

What will happen now in politics ? In what will 
all our anticipations end ? Napoleon seems to have 
something up his sleeve. Italy, Germany. . . . My 
heart stood still with joy when I read the news that 
the railway is to be opened as far as Kursk. Let it 
but come quickly, and then — long live Russia ! 

To his Stepson, P. A. Issayev 

October 10 [22], 1867. 

Your letter, dear boy, uncommonly delighted me. 
If you thought that I should forget you after my 
marriage (for I observed that you really were of that 


opinion, and I purposely did not set you right), you 
were wholly mistaken. It is quite the other way. 
Know now that I care for you even more since my 
marriage, and God be my witness that I suffer very 
much through being able to help you so little, I 
have always considered you a cheerful, plucky boy, 
and I retain that opinion. A person with those 
qualities must be happy in any position of life. I 
also think you very intelligent. Only one thing is 
against you : your lack of education. But if you 
really have no desire to learn something, at least hear 
my advice : you must, in any case, be earnest about 
your moral development, so far as that is capable of 
going without education (but, for education, one 
shall strive unto one's life's end). On my departure, 
I begged Apollon Nikolayevitch to be a friend to you, 
and assist you with good counsel. Pasha, he is the 
rarest of rare men, mark that. I have known him 
now for twenty years. He wUl always be able to 
direct you wisely. Above all things, you must be 
frank and upright in your intercourse with him. I 
have known for some time that you have been 
offered a place, and are still offered it. I advise you 
to take that place. I believe that a position with a 
police-magistrate would be incomparably more useful 
for you. You could in that way obtain a practical 
acquaintance with judicial matters, you could develop 
yourself, and accumulate much knowledge. But I 
have no confidence in you. One has to work very 
hard in such a post, and then it's very important to 
know what sort of man you would be likely to go to. 
If to a good sort, well and good ; but if to a bad, as 
bad as possible. Moreover, a provincial town like 
Ladoga is very dangerous at your age, particularly 


such a dull and inferior sort of place. Of course, the 
social relations in the railway- service are very bad. 
But I am of opinion that even in the highest 
Government -offices the social side is rotten-bad; 
only there, more refined manners prevail. For this 
reason, Petersburg would be better, for there one can 
find suitable society. But anyhow, you must take 
this place. As regards the danger of your falhng 
into evil ways, I have some confidence in you there. 
You can't possibly have forgotten your dead father 
and mother. Realize that I don't advise you to take 
this place (nor on account of the salary either) because 
in that way you will cease to be a charge on me. 
Know that, though 1 have not a farthing to spare, I 
shall support you to my life's end, whatever age you 
may be. I give you this advice for the sake of work 
alone, for work is the most important of all things. 
Anna Grigorovna loves you as I do. Write me fully 
about everything. 


To his Sister Vera, and his Brother-in-Law 
Alexander Favlovitch Ivanov 

January 1 [13], 1868. 


AND Vera Michailovna ! 
First of all, I embrace you, congratulate you on 
the New Year, and wish you of course most heartily 
everjrthing of the best ! Yesterday Anna Grigorovna 
surprised me with a quarter-bottle of champagne, 
which, at exactly half-past ten o'clock in the evening, 
when it was striking twelve in Moscow, she placed on 


our tea-table ; we clinked glasses, and drank to the 
health of all our dear ones. Who are dearer to me (and 
to Anna Grigorovna, her nearest relatives excepted) 
than you and your children ? Besides you, only 
Fedya ^ and his family, and Pasha ; there stand 
written all my precious ones, for whom I care. I 
have received both your letters, the last and the 
November one ; forgive my not having answered till 
now. I love you always, and think of you no less 
than hitherto. But I have been continually in such 
a state of stress and dissatisfaction that I put oiF 
answering to a better period ; and indeed, of late, I 
have (literally) not had a single free hour. I have 
been working all the time — writing, and then destroy- 
ing what I had written ; not until the end of Decem- 
ber was I able to send the first part of my novel ^ to 
the Roussky Viestnik. They wanted it for the 
January number, and I am afraid the MS. arrived 
too late. 

And now, for me, nearly everything depends on 
this work : my existence, daily bread, and my whole 
future. I have had huge advances of money fi-om 
the Roussky Viestnik — nearly 4,500 roubles ; then, in 
Petersburg, I still have bills to meet to the amount 
of at least 3,000 ; and at the same time I must exist 
somehow or other — and at such a period ! Therefore 
I stake all my hopes on the novel ; I shall have to 
work incessantly, scarcely rising from my desk, for 
the next four months. I am so very much behind- 
hand, because I have rejected nearly all that I've 
written up to the present. The book will, by 
the Roussky Fiestnik's rates, bring me in about 

' Dostoevsky's nephew, son of his brother Michael. 
^ "The Idiot." 

^T. 46] LIFE AT GENEVA 137 

6,000 roubles. Now I've had 4,500 in advance; 
consequently I have only 1,500 to get. If it really 
succeeds, I shall, in September, sell (as I am accus- 
tomed always to do) the second edition for about 
3,000 roubles. In that way 1 shall manage to Uve, 
pay off, in September, about 1,500 roubles of my 
debts, and come back to Russia. Thus everything 
depends on my work now : my whole future and my 
whole present ; and if the book is in any way good, I 
shall get further credit from the Viest?iik in Septem- 
ber. Now I'll teU you about our life and circum- 
stances up to the present. 

In that respect, it's all monotonous enough ; while 
we are in Geneva, every day resembles every other. I 
write, and Anna Grigorovna works at the outfit for 
the little person whom we are expecting, or does 
shorthand for me when I need her help. She bears 
her condition excellently (though lately she has not 
been quite so well) ; our life suits her admirably, and 
she only longs for her Mama. Our seclusion is to 
me personally of great value ; without it I could not 
have worked at all. But, all the same, Geneva, 
except for the view of Mont Blanc, the lake, and the 
River Rhone that flows from it, is mightily tedious. 
I knew that before ; but circumstances arranged 
themselves in such a way that in our situation we 
could find no other abode for the winter than just 
this Geneva, whither we came by chance in Septem- 
ber. In Paris, for instance, the winter is much colder, 
and wood ten times dearer, as everything is. We 
really wanted to go to Italy — that is to Milan, of 
course (not farther south), where the winter climate 
is incomparably milder ; while the town, with its 
Cathedral, theatre, and galleries, is much more attrac- 


tive. But in the first place, all Europe, and particu- 
larly Italy, was at that very time threatened with 
a campaign ; and for a woman with child to find 
herself in the middle of a campaign would have 
been far from pleasant. Secondly, it was eminently 
desirable that we should be able to render ourselves 
intelhgible to the doctor and the midwife, and we do 
not know Italian. Germany was out of our way, nor 
did we much desire to return there. Geneva is, at 
any rate, a cultivated town with libraries, and many 
doctors, etc., who all speak French. We had not, to 
be sure, guessed that it would be so dull here, nor 
that there are periodical winds (called hises), which 
come over the mountains, bringing with them the 
chill of the eternal ice. In our first abode we suflFered 
much ; the houses here are shockingly built ; instead 
of stoves there are only fireplaces, and there are no 
double windows. So all day long one has to keep 
burning wood in the fireplace (wood is very expen- 
sive here also, though Switzerland is the only land of 
Western Europe where wood is reaUy abundant) — 
and one might as well be trying to warm the yard 
outside. In my room it was often only six and even 
five degrees above zero ; in the others it sometimes 
happened that the water in the jug fi:oze at night. 
But for the last month or so, we've been in a new 
house. Two of the rooms are very good, and one of 
them is so warm that one. can live and work comfort- 
ably in it. With us in Geneva the temperature never 
fell below eight degrees ; in Florence it was ten 
degrees above, and at Montpellier in France, on the 
Mediterranean Sea, farther south than Geneva, it was 
fifteen above. 

I haven't written to Petersburg for a long time, 


and I scarcely ever hear from them. I am much 
perturbed by the thought that Fedya and Pasha need 
money, which must be sent them as soon as may be. 
But I can't possibly expect any large sum from the 
Roussky Viestnik until I deliver the second part of the 
novel, which won't be, at earhest, for three weeks ; for 
I have already had too much money in advance, and 
have only worked off about 1,000 roubles ; this 
worries me so that I often can't sleep at night. 
Fedya can't manage without extra help, and Pasha 
must have his money regularly. I live on the 
hundred roubles that the Viestnik sends me monthly. 
And soon I too shall need much more than that. 
At the end of February (by the Style here) Anna 
Grigorovna will be a mother, and for that occasion I 
must absolutely have money, and a margin — for one 
can't calculate with any certainty beforehand how 
much one will need. How goes it with you 1 
Your letters are real treats to me, and I wish 1 could 
go to Moscow just to see you all. But, once more, 
my future depends on my work. I beg you to write 
me most fully about yourselves and the children. 
By-the-bye, I was greatly vexed, Veryotchka, by your 
letter in November, saying that you want to get a 
Frenchwoman for your children. Why ? To what 
end ? On account of the accent ? From a French 
woman and even from a French tutor, one can't 
possibly (I know it by my own experience) acquire 
the French tongue in all its subtleties. One can 
acquire it only by firmly resolving to do so; and 
even then, perfectly to obtain the accent, one needs an 
extraordinarily strong will. I consider the " accent " 
superfluous. Believe me, dear Veryotchka, by the 
time your children are grown-up, French will no 


longer be spoken in our drawing-rooms. Even to-day, 
it often has a most absurd eflFect. It is a different 
matter to be able to understand and read a language. 
Then, if one's travelling, and it's necessary, one can 
make shift to speak it ; but otherwise it's quite 
enough to understand and read it. What is the 
Frenchwoman going to talk to the children about ? 
Nothing but tomfoolery ; and affected as she is, and 
powerful as she'll be, she'll infect them with her 
vulgar, corrupt, ridiculous, and imbecile code of 
manners, and her distorted notions about religion 
and society. It's a pleasure now to observe your 
children. The tone in your house is unconstrained 
and frank; everything bears the stamp of happy, 
tranquil family-life. The Frenchwoman will intro- 
duce a new and evil French element. While of the 
expense I need not speak. 

Yet another remark : If people want to acquire a 
correct French accent nowadays, they must adopt 
the guttural Parisian mode, which is very ugly and 
offensive to the ear. This accent is modem, and has 
been fashionable in Paris only within the last twenty- 
five years at most. Our tutors and governesses don't 
yet dare to introduce it among us. Therefore your 
children would not acquire this " correct pronuncia- 
tion." But I have written too much about the 
governess. I am now about to take a rest of two 
days, and then set to work again. The state of my 
health has remarkably improved since the autumn. 
Sometimes I don't have a single attack for seven 
weeks at a stretch. And yet I am occupied in most 
exacting brain-work. I can't understand how it has 
come to pass, but I'm very glad of it. 

Tin next time, my dear and precious ones. I 

^T. 46] DREAMS OF ITALY 141 

kiss and embrace you, wish you heartily, as brother 
and friend, all that is best, and beg you too not 
to forget us. My address is still Geneva. Perhaps 
at the end of April we may go over Mont Cenis into 
Italy, to Milan and Lake Como. That will be a 
real Paradise ! Everything depends, however, on my 
work. Wish me success. 


Fyodor Dostoevsky. 


To his Niece Sofia Aleocandrovna 

January 1 [13], 1868. 

My dear precious Sonetchka, 

Despite your request I have not even yet 
answered your letter, and give you herewith my 
word of honour that henceforth I will write regularly 
every month. In my letter to Alexander Pavlovitch 
I explained, as well as I could, the reason for my 
silence. All the time I was in such a bad temper 
and such continuous anxiety, that I felt I needed to 
shut myself into myself, and bear my woe in sohtude. 
In those days I should have found it hard to write to 
you — what could I have said ? Should I have talked 
of my bad temper ? (It would certainly have found 
expression, anyhow, in my letter.) But this non- 
sense is irrelevant. My position was most difficult. 
On my work hangs my whole future. I have not 
only had an advance of 4,500 roubles from the 
Viestnik, but have also promised on my word of 
honour, and reiterated that promise in every letter. 


that the novel should really be written. But directly 
before dispatching the finished MS. to the office, I 
found myself obliged to destroy the greater part of it, 
for I was no longer pleased with it — and if one is 
displeased with one's work, it can't possibly be good. 
So I destroyed the greater part of what I had written. 
Yet on this novel, and on the payment of my debts, 
depended my whole present and future. Three 
weeks ago (December 18 by the Style here) I attacked 
another novel, and am now working day and night. 
The idea of the book is the old one which I always 
have so greatly liked ; but it is so difficult that 
hitherto I never have had the courage to carry it out ; 
and if I'm setting to work at it now, it's only because 
I'm in a desperate plight. The basic idea is the 
representation of a truly perfect and noble man. And 
th^ is more difficult than anything else in the world, 
particularly nowadays. AU writers, not ours alone 
but foreigners also, who have sought to represent 
Absolute Beauty, were unequal to the task, for it is 
an infinitely difficult one. The beautiful is the ideal ; 
but ideals, with us as in civilized Europe, have long 
been wavering. There is in the world only one figure 
of absolute beauty : Christ. That infinitely lovely 
figure is, as a matter of course, an infinite marvel 
(the whole Gospel of St. John is full of this thought : 
John sees the wonder of the Incarnation, the visible 
apparition of the Beautiful). I have gone too far in 
my explanation. I will only say further that of all 
the noble figures in Christian literature, I reckon 
Don Quixote as the most perfect. But Don Quixote 
is noble only by being at the same time comic. And 
Dickens's Pickwickians (they were certainly much 
weaker than Don Quixote, but still it's a powerful 

JET. 46] "THE IDIOT" 143 

work) are comic, and this it is which gives them 
their great value. The reader feels sympathy and 
compassion vdth the Beautiful, derided and uncon- 
scious of its own worth. The secret of humour con- 
sists precisely in this art of wakening the reader's 
sympathy. Jean Valjean^ is likewise a remarkable 
attempt, but he awakens sympathy only by his 
terrible fate and the injustice of society towards him. 
I have not yet found anything similar to that, any- 
thing so positive, and therefore I fear that the book 
may be a " positive " failure. Single details will 
perhaps come out not badly. But I fear that the 
novel may be tiresome. It is to be very extensive. 
The first part I wrote in twenty-three days, and have 
lately sent off. This first part has no action at all. 
It is confessedly only a prologue. It is right that it 
should not compromise the whole work in any way, 
but it illuminates nothing, and poses no problem. 
My sole aim is to awake at least such interest in the 
reader as will make him read the second part. That 
second part I am beginning to-day, and shall finish in 
a month. (I have always worked as quickly as that.) 
I believe that it will be stronger and more significant 
than the first part. Well, dear, wish me luck ! The 
novel is called " The Idiot," and is dedicated to 
you, Sofia Alexandrovna. My dear, I wish that the 
book may turn out worthy of that dedication. At 
any rate, I am not called upon to judge my own 
work, least of all in the excited state in which I 
now am. 

My health is most satisfactory, and I can bear well 
even the hardest work; but with regard to Anna 
Grigorovna's condition, I am now anticipating a 

1 Hero of Hugo's "Les Mis^rables." 


difficult time. I shall work for four months longer, 
and hope then to be able to go to Italy. Solitude is 
essential to me just now. Fedya and Pasha make 
me really sad. I am writing to Fedya by this post. 
Life abroad is on the whole very troublesome, and I 
long terribly for Russia. Anna Grigorovna and 1 live 
quite solitary here. My life passes thus: I get up 
late, light the fire (it is fearfully cold), we driak 
coffee, and then I go to work. About four, I go to 
a restaurant, where I dine for two francs (with wine). 
Anna Grigorovna prefers to dine at home. After 
dinner I go to a cafd, drink coffee, and read the 
Moskovskoie Fiedomosti {Moscow News) and the Golos^ 
from A to Z. For exercise I walk half-an-hour in 
the streets, and then betake myself to home and work. 
I light the fire, we drink coffee, and 1 set to again. 
Anna Grigorovna declares that she's immensely happy. 

Geneva is a dull, gloomy, Protestant, stupid town 
with a frightful climate, but very well suited for work. 

I don't suppose I shall be able to get back to Russia 
at all before September — alas, my dear ! As soon as 
I do, I shall hasten to embrace you. I stUl dally 
with the thought of starting a magazine after my 
return. But of course all depends upon the success 
of my present novel. Only think : I am working so 
furiously, and yet I don't know whether the MS. will 
arrive in time for the January number or not. That 
would be very unpleasant for me ! 

I embrace and kiss you. Your ever friendly 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

* The Moscow Voice, an important paper. 

^T. 46] HIS STEPSON 145 


To his Stepson, P. A. Issayev 

February 19 \March 3], 1868. 

Don't reproach me and don't be angry with me, 
my ever dear Pasha, because I send Emilie Fyodor- 
ovna^ a hundred roubles, and you only fifty. You 
are alone, my dear boy, and she is not alone. And 
you wrote yourself, indeed, that she needed as much 
as that. And then, she has to support her Fedya ; 
he is at work, and I wish him luck. I love him 
dearly. I would willingly give all I have, but I have 
nothing. I must tell you that it is a great joy to me 
that you have taken that place, and begun to work. 
I respect you very much for it, Pasha. It was 
noble of you ; the position is not distinguished, but 
you are still young, and can wait. But remember 
that you can always count on me. So long as I live, 
I shall regard you as my dear son. I swore to your 
mother, the night before she died, that I would never 
forsake you. When you were still a httle child, I 
used to call you my son. How could I, then, forsake 
you and forget you ? When I married again, you 
threw out hints that your position would now be a 
different one ; I never answered them, because the 
idea wounded me deeply ; I may confess that to you 
now. Know once for all that you will always be my 
son, my eldest son ; and not duty bids me say so, but 
my heart. If I have often scolded you, and been 
cross to you, that was only my evil disposition ; I 
love you as I have but seldom loved anyone. When 

^ His brother Michael's widow. 



I come back to Petersburg some day, I shall do all I 
can to find you a better place ; I will also help you 
with money as long as I live, and have anything at 
all of my own. Your saying that you don't feel well 
has alarmed me much. Write to me directly you 
receive this, if only a few lines. Send the letter 
unstamped ; you must not have any unnecessary 
expenses. My address is still the same. I set all 
my hopes on the new noveL If it succeeds, I shall 
sell the second edition, pay my debts, and return to 
Russia. I may also get an advance from the paper. 
But I fear that the novel will miss fire. I greatly 

like the idea, but the execution ! The novel is 

called "The Idiot"; the first part has already been 
printed in the Roussky Viestnik. Perhaps you've read 
it ? The great thing is that it should come off— then 
all will be well. 1 work day and night ; our life is 
monotonous. Geneva is a terribly dull town. I 
froze through the whole winter ; but now we are 
having real spring weather. Ten degrees above — 
Reaumur. My health is neither good nor bad. I 
suffer from incessant poverty. We live on a few 
groschen, and have pawned everything. Anna Gri- 
gorovna may be confined at any moment. I expect 
it to happen to-night. I am in great anxiety, but 
must work uninterruptedly. Judge for yourself 
whether I can answer all your letters punctually. 
Tell me fully about yourself. Take care of your 



To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

May 18 [30], 1868. 

1 thank you for your letter, my dear Apollon 
Nikolayevitch, and for not being angry with me and 
so breaking off our correspondence. I was always 
convinced, in the depths of my soul, that Apollon 
Nikolayevitch would never do such a thing as that. 

My Sonia is dead ; we buried her three days ago. 
Two hours before her death, I did not know that she 
was to die. The doctor told us, three hours before 
she died, that things were going better and she would 
hve. She was only a week ill ; she died of inflam- 
mation of the lungs. 

Ah, my dear Apollon Nikolayevitch, my love for 
my first child was probably most comical ; 1 daresay 
I expressed it most comically in my letters to all who 
congratulated me. I have doubtless been ridiculous 
in everybody's eyes, but to you, to ymi, I am not 
ashamed to say anything. The poor little darling 
creature, scarcely three months old, had already, for 
me, individuality and character. She was just be- 
ginning to know and love me, and always smiled when 
I came near. And now they tell me, to console me, 
that I shall surely have other children. But where 
is Sonia? where is the little creature for whom I 
would, believe me, gladly have suffered death upon 
the cross, if she could have remained alive ? I'll 
speak of it no more. My wife is crying. The day 
after to-morrow we shall say our last good-bye to 
the little grave, and go away somewhere. Anna 


Nikolayevna^ is staying with us ; she arrived here 
only a week before the little one died. 

For the last fortnight, since Soma's illness, I have 
not been able to work. I have written a letter of 
apology to Katkov, and in the May number of the 
Roussky Viestnik, again only three chapters can appear. 
But I hope from now to be able to work day and 
night, so that from the June number onward the 
novel will appear with some degree of regularity. 

I thank you for consenting to be godfather to the 
httle one. She was baptized a week before her 
death. ... 

[The second half of the letter is on business only.] 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

June 10 [22], 1868. 

My dear Friend Apollon Nikolayevitch, 

I know and believe that your sympathy is real 
and true. But I have never yet been so profoundly 
unhappy as of late. I don't intend to describe my 
state to you, but the more time goes by, the more 
painful does remembrance become, and the more 
clearly does my dead Soma's image stand before me. 
There are moments in which I can hardly bear it. 
She already knew me ; when I was leaving the house 
on the day she died, just to read the papers, and 
without the least idea that she would be dead in two 
hours, she followed so attentively all my movements, 
and looked at me with such eyes that even at this 
moment I can see them, and the memory grows 

^ His wife's mother. 


^T. 46] SONIA'S MEMORY 149 

livelier every day. I shall never forget her, my grief 
will never come to an end. And if I ever should 
have another child, I don't know, truly, how I shall be 
able to love it — I don't know where the love could 
come from. I want only Sonia. I can't realize in 
the least that she is no more, and that I am never to 
see her again. . . . 

[He speaks of his wife's condition and of business 

I have grown quite stupid from sheer hard work, 
and my head feells as if it were in pieces. I await 
your letters always as one awaits Heaven. What is 
there more precious than a voice from Russia, the 
voice of my friend ? I have nothing to tell you, no 
news of any kind, I get duller and stupider every 
day that I'm here, and yet I daren't do anything until 
the novel's finished. Then, however, I intend in any 
event to go back to Russia. To get the book done, 
I must sit at my desk for at least eight hours daily. 
I have now half worked off my debt to Katkov. 1 
shall work off the rest. Write to me, my friend — 
write, for Christ's sake. . . . 

In the four chapters that you will read in the June 
number (perhaps there may be only three, for the 
fourth probably arrived too late), I have depicted 
some types of the modern Positivist among the highly 
" extreme " young men. I know that I have presented 
them truthfully (for I understand the gentry from 
experience ; no one but me has thus studied and 
observed them), and I know too that everyone will 
abuse me and say : " Nonsensical, naive, stupid, and 



To ApoUon Nikolayevitch Maikov • 

Odober 7 [I9]j 1868. 

Above all, I must declare that I never have been 
in the least degree offended with you, and I say it 
sincerely and honestly ; on the contrary — I supposed 
that you were angry with me for some reason or 
another. In the first place, you had ceased to write 
to me ; though every one of your letters is to me, 
here, a great event — a breath from Russia, a real 
festival. But how could you ever have thought that 
I considered myself offended by anything you may 
have written ? No ; my heart is not like that. And 
moreover, think of this : twenty-two years ago (it 
was at Bielinsky's, do you remember ?) I made your 
acquaintance. Since then life has properly rattled 
me about, and sometimes given me amazing surprises ; 
and in short and in fine I have at the present moment 
no one but you : you are the only man on whose 
heart and disposition I rely, whom I love, and whose 
thoughts and convictions I share. How then should 
I not love you, almost as much as I loved my brother 
who is dead ? Your letters have always rejoiced and 
encouraged me, for I was in dejected mood. My 
work, more than anything else, has frightfully weak- 
ened and broken me. For almost a year now I have 
written three and a half printed sheets every month. 
That is very stiff. Also I miss the Russian way of 
life ; its impressions were always essential to my 
work. Finally, though you praise the idea of my 
novel, the execution has not hitherto been distin- 

^T. 47] THE SLAVS 151 

guished. I am chiefly distressed by the thought 
that if I had got the novel written in a year, and 
then had had two or three months to devote to re- 
writing and re-touching, it would have been quite a 
different thing; I can answer for it. Now, when I 
can take a bird's-eye view, as it were, of the whole, 
I see that very clearly. . . . 

I have become totally ahenated from your way of 
life, though my whole heart is with you ; that is why 
your letters are like heavenly manna to me. The 
tidings of the new paper ^ greatly rejoiced me. . . . 
What more can Nikolay Nikolayevitch^ now desire ? 
The chief point is that he should be absolute master 
of the paper. It is very desirable that it be edited / 
in the Russian spirit, as we both conceive it, if it 
is not to become purely Slavophil. I hold, my friend, 
that it is no part of our duty to woo the Slavs too 
ardently. They must come to us of their own accord. 
After the Pan-Slavist Congress at Moscow, some 
individual Slavs made insolent mock of the Russians, 
because they had taken on themselves to lead others, 
and even aspired to dominate them, while they 
themselves had so little national consciousness, and 
so on. Believe me : many Slavs, for instance those 
in Prague, judge us from a frankly Western, from a 
French or German, point of view ; I daresay they 
wonder that our Slavophils trouble themselves so 
little about the generally accepted formulas of West- 
European civilization. Thus we have no motive at 
all for running after them and paying court. It is a 
different thing for us merely to study them ; we 
could then help them in time of need ; but we should 

* The allusion is to Sarya (Morning Red). 
2 Strachov. 


not pursue them with fraternal sentiment, although 
we must very assuredly regard them as brothers and 
treat them so. I hope too that Strachov will give 
the paper a definite political tone, to say nothing at 
all of national consciousness. National consciousness 
is our weak spot ; it lacks more than anything else. 
In every case, Strachov will make a brilliant thing 
of it, and I look forward to the great delight that his 
articles will afford me ; I have read nothing of his 
since the failure of the Epoch. . . . 

The book about which you write I had shortly 
before read,'^ and I must confess that it enraged me 
terribly. I can imagine nothing more impudent. 
Of course one should spit upon such stuff, and so I 
was ready to do at first. But I am oppressed by the 
thought that if I don't protest against it, I shall thus 
seem, as it were, to acknowledge the vile fabrication. 
Only, where is one to protest ? In the N^ord ? But 
I can't write French well, and I should like to proceed 
with all tact, I have an idea of going to Florence, 
and there getting advice from the Russian Consulate. 
Of course that is not the only reason why I wish to 
go to Florence. . . . 


To his Niece Sofia Alexandrovna 

October 26 [November 7], 1868 

My dear good Friend Sonetchka, 

It is a very long time since 1 have written to 
you. I can say only one thing in excuse : I am still 

' He is speaking of the novel " Les Secrets du Palais des 
Tsars," which deals with the Court of Nicholas I. In this book 
Dostoevsky and his wife appear. 

^T. 47] IN ARREARS 153 

busy with my novel. Believe me, dear, I literally 
toil day and night ; if I am not precisely writing, I 
am walking up and down the room, smoking and 
thinking of my work. I can scarcely myself believe 
that I can't find a free hour in which to write to you. 
But it really is so. Of myself and my life I can give 
you the following information : I live on the best of 
friendly terms with my wife. She is patient, and 
my interests are more important to her than aught 
else ; but I see that she is pining for her friends 
and relations in Russia. This often grieves me, but 
my position is still so perplexed that for the next 
few months we dare not make any plans at all. 
My affairs have turned out sadly worse than I had 

In two months, you see, the year will be at an end, 
but of the four parts of my novel only three are 
finished ; the fourth and longest I have not even 
begun. And as it is quite impossible (working un- 
interruptedly through the whole year) to write more 
than three and a half sheets a month (I say this from 
actual experience), I shall be in arrears by six sheets 
— that is, the end of the novel cannot appear in the 
December number of the Boussky Fiestnik. This 
puts me in a most awkward and painful position ; in 
the first place, I cause the staff much inconvenience, 
and even loss, for they will have to. give their sub- 
scribers the conclusion of the novel as a supplement 
(which, quite apart from anything else, is attended 
with great expense) ; in the second place, I myself 
lose thereby 900 roubles, for I proposed to the staff 
that I should indemnify them by claiming no fee for 
the six sheets by which I am in arrears. Finally, this 
fourth part, and particularly its conclusion, are the 


most important things in the whole book, which was, 
strictly speaking, conceived and written for its con- 
clusion alone. 

Of our personal life I'll tell you as follows. After 
we had buried Sonia in Geneva, we went, as you 
already know, to Vevey. Anna Grigorovna's mother 
came to her, and stayed with us a long time. In 
tiny, picturesque Vevey we lived like hermits, our 
only pastime being many mountain-walks. Of the 
beauty of the scenery I'll say nothing at all ; it's like 
a dream ; yet Vevey is most enervating : all the 
doctors in the world know this, but I did not. 

I suffered much from epileptic and other nervous 
attacks. My wife was ill too. So we crossed the 
Simplon (the most ardent imagination could not 
depict the beauty of the Simplon Pass) into Italy, 
and settled down in Milan ; our means prevented 
us from going farther. (During the last year and 
a half I have had so many advances from the 
Roussky Viestnik that I must now work at fiill 
pressure to get matters square ; indeed, they still 
send me regularly comparatively large sums, yet I 
often find it very difficult to manage; and for a 
long time I've sent nothing to Petersburg, either 
to Pasha or Emilie Fyodorovna, which greatly 
troubles me.) 

In Milan it certainly rains a good deal, but the 
climate suits me extraordinarily weU. Yet it is said 
that fits are highly prevalent at Milan; perhaps I 
shall be spared one, nevertheless. Living in Milan 
is very expensive. It is a big, important town, but 
not very picturesque, and somewhat un-Italian. In 
the neighbourhood, that is, half-an-hour's railway 
journey from Milan, hes the exquisite Lake of Como, 

^T. 47] HOMESICK 155 

but I have not yet been there this time. The only 
." sight " in the town is the famous Duomo ; it is of 
marble, gigantic, Gothic, filigree-like, fantastic as a 
dream. Its interior is amazingly fine. At the end 
of November, I mean to move to Florence, for there 
are Russian papers there, and perhaps living may be 
cheaper. On the way I shall make a detour to Venice 
(so as to show it to my wife), which will cost me about 
a hundred francs. 

Now I have given you in few words a full account 
of myself I am very heavy-hearted ; homesick, and 
uncertain of my position ; my debts, etc., deject me 
terribly. And besides I have been so alienated from 
Russian life that I find it difficult, lacking fresh 
Russian impressions as I do, to write anything at all : 
only think — for six months I haven't seen a single 
Russian newspaper. And I still have the fourth part 
of my novel to do, and it will take about four months 
more. Enough of me. Write fully of all your 
affairs, of your external circumstances, and of your 
state of mind. Embrace your Mama from me ; I 
often think of her, and pray for her every day. I 
frequently recall our past days together. Kiss your 
Missenika for me. Tell me your right address. 
Write to me at Milan, poste restante. 

Even if I should have left Milan, and be in 
Florence or Venice (which is recommended me for 
the winter), I shall get your letters addressed to 
Milan ; before my departure I shall give my new 
address to the post-office here. As soon as I go to 
another town, I'll let you know without delay. My 
wife sends greeting and kisses. We both long for our 
home. I have been told that after New Year, a new 
journal is to appear in Petersburg. The publisher is 


Kachpirev ; the editor — my friend Strachov. They 
have asked me to contribute. The undertaking seems 
to be quite serious and very promising. Maikov 
writes of it in great delight. 

Do read, in the September number of the Boussky 
Viestnik, the article on the British Association. 
I kiss and embrace you, I press you to my heart. 
Your friend and brother, 

Fyodob Dostoevsky. 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

December \l [23], 1868. 

I have had a letter from Strachov too ; he teUs me 
a lot of literary news. Particularly do I rejoice to 
hear of Danilevsky's article, " Europe and Russia,"^ 
which Strachov says is splendid. I must confess that 
I have heard nothing of Danilevsky since the year 
1849, though I've often thought of him. What a 
frenzied Fourierist he was at one time ; and now that 
same Fourierist has turned himself back into a 
Russian who loves his native soil and customs ! 
Thus may one know the people who really 
matter ! . , . 

But, on the other hand, I'll never agree with the 

^ The articles by Danilevsky, which appeared in Sarya, were 
afterwards collected under the title of " Russia and Europe." 
Danilevsky aimed at giving a scientific basis to the Slavophil 
Utopias, and taught, among other things, that Russia must place 
herself at the head of a Pan-Slavist Federation, whose centre 
should be in Constantinople, unconquered yet, but to be con- 

^T. 47] PROJECTS 157 

view of the dead ApoUon Grigoryev, that Bielinsky 
also would have ended by becoming a Slavophil. 
No; with Biehnsky that was quite out of the 
question. He was, in his day, a remarkable writer, 
but could not possibly have developed any further. 
Rather, he would have ended as adjutant to some 
leader of the Women's Rights movement over here, 
and have forgotten his Russian while learning no 
German. Do you know what the new Russians are 
like ? Well, for example, look at the moujik, the 
" sectarian " of the time of Paul the Prussian,^ about 
whom there's an article in the June number of the 
Roussky Viestnik. If he's not precisely typical of the 
coming Russian, he is undoubtedly one of the Russians 
of the future. 

Those cursed creditors will kill me to a certainty. 
It was stupid of me to run away to foreign lands ; 
assuredly 'twere better to have stayed at home and 
let myself be put in the debtor's prison. If I could 
only treat with them from here ! But that can't be, 
for my personal presence is indispensable. I speak of 
this, because at the moment I am meditating two and 
even three publishing ventures which will demand the 
labour of an ox to carry out, but must inevitably 
bring in money. I have often had luck with similar 

Now here's what I propose : 

1. A long novel entitled " Atheism " (but for God's 
sake, let this be entirely between ourselves) ; before I 
attack it, I shall have to read a whole library of 
atheistic works by Catholic and Orthodox-Greek 

* Paul I., so called because of his love for all things German. 


writers. Even in the most favourable circumstances, 
it can't be ready for two years. I have my principal 
figure ready in my mind. A Russian of our class, 
getting on in years, not particularly cultured, though 
not uncultured either, and of a certain degree of social 
importance, loses quite suddenly, in ripe age, his belief 
in God. His whole life long he has been wholly 
taken up by his work, has never dreamed of escaping 
from the rut, and up to his forty- fifth year, has distin- 
guished himself in no wise. (The working-out will 
be pure psychology : profound in feeling, human, 
and thoroughly Russian.) The loss of faith has a 
colossal effect on him ; (the treatment of the story, 
and the environment, are both largely conceived). 
He tries to attach himself to the younger generation 
— the atheists, Slavs, Occidentalists, the Russian 
Sectarians and Anchorites, the mystics : amongst 
others he comes across a Polish Jesuit ; thence he 
descends to the abysses of the Chlysty-sect ^ ; and 
finds at last salvation in Russian soil, the Russian 
Saviour, and the Russian God. (For heaven's sake 
don't speak of this to anyone ; when I have written 
this last novel, I shall be ready to die, for I shall have 
uttered therein my whole heart's burden. ) My dear 
friend, I have a totally different conception of truth 
and realism from that of our " realists " and critics. 
My God ! If one could but tell categorically all that 
we Russians have gone through during the last ten 
years in the way of spiritual development, all the 
realists would shriek that it was pure fantasy ! And 
yet it would be pure realism ! It is the one true, 
deep reahsm ; theirs is altogether too superficial. Is 

' A flagellant sect still widely spread over Russia. 

^T. 47] THE "REALISTS " 159 

not the figure of Lyubim Torzov,^ for instance, at 
bottom hideously unmeaning ? Yet it's the boldest 
thing they've produced. And they call that pro- 
found realism ! With such realism, one couldn't 
show so much as the hundredth part of the true facts. 
But our idealists have actually predicted many of the 
actual facts — really, that has been done. My dear 
fellow^ don't laugh at my conceit ; for I'm like 
Paul : " Nobody praises me, so I'll praise myself." 

In the meantime I've got to live somehow. I don't 
mean to hurry my "Atheism" on to the market 
(I have such lots to say therein about Catholicism 
and Jesuitry, as compared with Orthodoxy). More- 
over, I have an idea for a tolerably lengthy novel of 
about twelve sheets ; it strikes me as most attractive. 
And I've another plan besides. Which shall I decide 
on, and to whom shall I offer my work ? To the 
Sarya ? But I always demand payment in advance ; 
and perhaps on the Sarya they won't agree to 
that? . . . 

[Here follow some purely business details.] 


To his Niece Sofia Aleocandrovna 

January 25 [February 6], I869. 

My dear, good, and valued friend Sonetchka, 

I did not at once answer your last letter 

(undated), and nearly died of conscience - pangs 

therefor, because I love you very much. But it was 

not my fault, and it shall be different in future. 

^ Hero of a drama by Ostrovsky. 


Regularity in our correspondence henceforth depends 
wholly on you ; I shall from now onward answer each 
of your letters the same day I receive it ; but as every 
letter from Russia is now an event to me, and deeply 
moves me {yours always in the most delightful sense), 
do write, if you love me, as often as you possibly can. 
I have not answered you for so long, because I put 
off all business and even the most important letters 
until I had finished the novel. Now it is done at last. 
I worked at the concluding chapters by day and by 
night, in the deepest anxiety and amid great torment 
of mind. A month ago I wrote to the RoussUy 
Viestnik, asking them to postpone the appearance of 
the December number for a little while, and so make 
it possible for me to bring out the conclusion of my 
book this year. I swore that I would deliver the last 
lines by the 15th of January (by our Style). But 
what happened ? I had two attacks, and therefore 
was obliged to overstep by ten days the term which 
I had myself fixed. They can only to-day (January 25) 
have received the two last chapters. You can easily 
imagine how much perturbed I have been by the 
thought that they might lose patience, and, as they 
had not received the end by the 15th, might let the 
number appear without the novel ! That would be 
terrible for me. In any case, they must be infuriated ; 
I was in dire need and had to write to Katkov for 

The climate of Florence is perhaps even more 
unfavourable to my health than that of Milan or 
Vevey ; the epileptic attacks return more frequently. 
Two, with an interval of six days, have brought about 
this delay of ten days. Besides, it rains too much in 
Florence ; though in fine weather it is real Paradise 


here. One can imagine nothing lovelier than this 
sky, this air, and this light. For a fortnight it was 
somewhat cool, and as the houses here are poorly 
equipped, we froze during that fortnight like mice in 
a cellar. But now I have my work behind me, and 
am free ; this work, which took a year, carried me 
away so completely that I have not yet been able to 
collect my thoughts. The future is to me an enigma ; 
I don't even yet know what I shall decide to do. 
However, I shall have to make up my mind to some- 
thing. In three months, we shall have been exactly 
two years abroad. In my opinion, it is worse than 
deportation to Siberia. I mean that quite seriously ; 
I'm not exaggerating. I cannot understand the 
Russians abroad. Even though there is a wonderful 
sky here, and though there are — as, for example, 
in Florence — literally unimaginable and incredible 
marvels of art, there are lacking many advantages 
which even in Siberia, as soon as I left the prison, 
- made themselves evident to me : I mean, especially, 
home and the Russians, without which and whom 
I cannot live. Perhaps you may experience this 
yourself one day, and then you'll see that I don't 
exaggerate in the least. And yet my immediate 
future is still hidden from me. My original positive 
plan has for the moment broken down. (I say 
positive, but naturally all my plans, like those of any 
man who possesses no capital and lives only by his 
own toil, are associated with risks, and dependent on 
many attendant circumstances.) I hope that I shall 
succeed in bettering my finances by the second edition 
of the novel, and then returning to Russia ; but I'm 
dissatisfied with the book, for I haven't said a tenth 
part of what I wanted to say. Nevertheless, I don't 



repudiate it, and to this day I love the plan that 

But in fact the book is not showy enough for the 
public taste ; the second edition will therefore, even 
if it comes off at all, bring in so little that I can't 
reckon on it for any new arrangements. While I'm 
here in this foreign land, besides, I know nothing of 
what reception the book had in Russia. Just at first 
I was sent some cuttings, full of ecstatic praise. But 
lately — never a word. The worst of it is that I don't 
know anything, either, about the views of the Boussky 
Viestnik people. Whenever I've asked them for money, 
they've sent it by return of post, from which I am 
inclined to draw a favourable conclusion. But I may 
be mistaken. Now Maikov and Strachov write from 
Petersburg that a new journal, Sarya, has been 
started, with Strachov as editor; they sent me the 
first number, and begged for my collaboration. I 
promised it, but am hindered by my long connection 
with the Boussky Viestnik (it is always better to stay 
with the same paper), and by the fact that Katkov 
gave me an advance of 3,000 roubles before I came 
abroad. And I owe the editorial staff a good deal 
besides, for (together with the first three thousand) 
I have gradually borrowed in all about seven thousand 
roubles ; so that on that ground alone I can at present 
work for no other paper but the Boussky Viestnik. 

On their answer to my request for more money all 
now depends. But even if they answer favourably, 
my position will remain most uncertain. I must at 
all costs get back to Russia ; for here I am losing all 
power to write, not having the, to me, essential 
material at hand — that is to say, Russian actualities 
(from which I draw my ideas) and Russian people. 

^T. 47] A GIGANTIC IDEA 163 

Every moment I am obliged to look up something, 
or make inquiries about something, and know not 
where to turn for it. I am now dalljdng with the 
idea of a gigantic novel, which in any event, even 
should it miscarry with me, must be very effective by 
reason of its theme alone. That theme is — Atheism 
(it is not an indictment of the now prevalent con- 
victions, but something quite different : a real story). 
What it has to do is to take the reader captive even 
against his will. Of course I shall have to study hard 
for it. Two or three important characters I have 
already got into extraordinary perspective, among 
others a Catholic enthusiast and priest (something 
like St. Fran9ois Xavier). But I can't possibly write 
it here. I should most assuredly be able to sell the 
second edition of this work, and make much money 
thereby ; but when ? Not before two years. (Don't 
tell anyone about this idea.) In the meantime I must 
write something else, for daily bread. All this is 
most depressing. Some change must absolutely take 
place in my situation ; but from what quarter is it to 
arrive ? 

You are right, my dear, when you say that I should 
be able to make money much more easily and quickly 
in Russia. And as a matter of fact I am now medi- 
tating two ideas for pubUcations : one would demand 
much work and would entirely preclude all idea of 
simultaneous occupation with a novel, but might 
bring in much money (of that I have no doubt). 
The other is pure compilation and almost mechanical ; 
it is an idea for an annually-ajppeanng large and uni- 
versally useful volume of about sixty sheets of small 
print, which would be widely bought and would come 
out every January ; this idea I won't as yet disclose. 



for it is too " safe " and too valuable ; the profits are 
beyond doubt ; my work would be purely editorial.^ 
All the same it would require some ideas, and much 
special knowledge. And this work would not prevent 
me from doing a novel at the same time. I shall 
need collaborators therein, and shall think of you 
first of all (I shall need translators too), and of course 
on the understanding that profits shall be shared in 
proportion to the work done ; you will earn ten times 
as much as you now get for your work. 

I can say without boasting that I've already in the 
course of my life had many a good literary idea. I 
have suggested them to different editors, and to 
Krayevsky also and my dead brother ; each one that 
has been carried out has proved highly lucrative. So 
I am building on these latest notions. But the chief 
thing is this next big novel. If I don't write iti it 
will torment me to death. But I can't write it here. 
And neither can I return to Russia until I have paid 
at least 4,000 roubles of my debts, and have besides 
in my possession 3,000 roubles (so as to be able to 
exist through the first year) — thus, seven thousand 

But enough of me and my tiresome affairs ! One 
way or another, some sort of an end must come, else 
I shall die of it all. . . . 

Your ever loving 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

P.S. My address is Florence, poste restante. I 
hear that an enormous lot of letters get lost. 

1 This is his plan for « The Diary of a Writer." 



To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov 


February 26 [March 10], 1869. 

. . . And have you observed the following peculi- 
arity of our Russian criticism? Every outstanding 
critic (such as Bielinsky, Grigoryev) first presented 
himself to the public under the protection, so tb 
speak, of some outstanding writer — and thence- 
forward devoted himself wholly to the interpretation 
of that writer, nor ever expressed his ideas save in 
the form of a commentary upon that writer's works. 
The critics made no concealment of this, and indeed 
it appeared to be taken as a matter-of-course. I 
mean to say that our critics can only express their 
own ideas when they step forth arm-in-arm with 
some writer who attracts them. Thus, Bielinsky, 
when he passed our whole literature under review, 
and even when he wrote his articles on Pushkin, 
could only do so by leaning on Gogol, to whom he 
had paid honour in his youth. Grigoryev has relied 
on his interpretations of Ostrovsky, in championing 
whom he made his ddbut. And you have, as long as 
I've known you, had a boundless and instant sympathy 
for Leo Tolstoy. When I read your article in the 
Sarya, I felt, to be sure, an impression of its being 
wholly necessary, of your being obliged to begin with 
Leo Tolstoy, and an analysis of his last work,^ before 
you could utter your own idea. In the Golos, a 
feuilletonist declares that you share Tolstoy's historical 
fatalism. That idiotic phrase leaves things precisely 

1 "War and Peace." 


where they were ; do tell me how people manage to 
come upon such amazing notions and expressions! 
What may historical fatalism mean? Why this 
eternal jargon, and why do simple-minded men who 
can only see as far as the end of their noses, so deepen 
and darken counsel that no one can make out what 
they're driving at ? It was evident that that feuille- 
tonist had something that he wanted to say ; he had 
read your article, beyond doubt. What you say in 
the passage referring to the battle of Borodino, 
expresses the profoundest essence of the Tolstoyan 
idea, and of your own reflections thereon. I don't 
think you could possibly have spoken with more 
lucidity. The national Russian idea stands almost 
nakedly forth in that passage. Precisely it is what 
people have failed to comprehend, and therefore have 
designated as fatalism. As regards other details of 
the article, I must await the sequel (which I haven't 
yet received). At any rate your thoughts are lucid, 
logical, definitely conceived, and most admirably 
expressed. Certain details, though, I don't entirely 
agree in. We could treat these questions quite 
otherwise, were we talking to one another, instead of 
writing. In any case, I regard you as the only 
representative of our criticism with whom the future 
will reckon. . . . 

I thank you, my kind and much-esteemed Nikolay 
Nikolayevitch, for the great interest that you show in 
me. My health is as satisfactory as hitherto, and the 
attacks are even less violent than in Petersburg. 
Lately (that is, till about six weeks ago), I have been 
much occupied with the end of my "Idiot." Do 
write and give me the opinion you promised on the 
book ; I await it eagerly. I have my own idea about 


art, and it is this: What most people regard as 
fantastic and lacking in universality, / hold to be the 
inmost essence of truth. Arid observation of every- 
day trivialities I have long ceased to regard as realism 
— it is quite the reverse. In any newspaper one takes 
up, one comes across reports of wholly authentic 
facts, which nevertheless strike one as extraordinary. 
Our writers regard them as fantastic, and take no 
account of them ; and yet they are the truth, for 
they are facts. But who troubles to observe, record, 
describe, them ? They happen every day and every 
moment, therefore they are not " exceptional." . . . 

The Russians are often unjustly reproached with 
beginning all sorts of things, making great plans — but 
never carrying out even the most trivial of them. 
This view is obsolete and shallow, and false besides. 
It is a slander on the Russian national character ; and 
even in BieUnsky's time it was prevalent. How paltry 
and petty is such a way of driving home actualities ! 
Always the same old story ! In this way, we shall 
let all true actuality slip through our fingers. And 
who will really delineate the facts, will steep himself 
in them ? Of Turgenev's novel I don't wish even to 
speak ; the devil knows what it may mean 1 But is 
not my fantastic " Idiot," the very dailiest truth ? 
Precisely such characters must exist in those strata of 
our society which have divorced themselves fifom the 
soU — which actually are becoming fantastip. But I'll 
talk of it no more ! In my book much was written 
in haste, much is too drawn-out, much has miscarried ; 
but much, too, is extremely good. I am not defend- 
ing the novel, but the idea. Do tell me your view 
of it ; and, of course, quite frankly. The more you 


find fault with me, the higher shall I rate your 
honesty. . . . 

[Thenceforth he writes of the journal Sarya, and 
the articles which have been published therein.] 


To his Niece Sofia Ahocandrovna 

March 8 [20], 1869. 

You have, as I begged you, answered all my letters 
regularly by return, my dear and precious friend 
Sonetchka. But I have broken my word, and made 
you wait more than a fortnight for my answers. 
This time 1 can't even excuse myself by pressure of 
work, for all my jobs have long been ready and de- 
liverdd. I can explain my silence only by the 
depressed state of mind in which I have been. 

The Roussky Viestnik did not answer my request for 
money for seven weeks (so that I had to wait through 
all Lent) ; only to-day have I received the money, 
though I had depicted my desperate situation to the 
people there more than two months ago. They write, 
with many apologies, that they have not been able to 
send me the money any sooner, because, as always at 
the beginning of the year, they were confronted with 
a terrible lot of work that could not be postponed, 
and with the accounts. And it is a fact that about 
New Year one never can get anything out of them ; 
it was wont to be so in earlier days, and I can stUl 
remember how in the years 1866 and 1867 they made 
me wait whole months for an answer, just as now. 
So we've had anything but an easy time of it — we 


were even in actual distress. If we had not been 
able to borrow two hundred francs from an acquaint- 
ance, and to get a further hundred from other sources, 
we might easily have died of hunger in this foreign 
town. But what worried us most was the constant 
suspense and uncertainty. In such circumstances, I 
could not possibly write to anyone, not even you, my 
dear. Evidently the staff, as I gather from their 
letter, wish to retain me as a contributor ; otherwise 
they would not have granted me a further advance. 
Indeed I can't complain of Katkov, and am even 
grateful to him for the many advances he has made 
me. Journals are impoverished nowadays, and 
don't usually give any advances ; but in the very be- 
ginning, before I even began to write the novel, I had 
4,000 roubles from these people. For that reason I 
must not be either angry or disloyal. ... I must 
strive even harder than hitherto to make myself use- 
ful to them. You write that people declare the 
magazine has lost ground. Is that really possible? 
I can't at all believe it ; of course not because / am a 
contributor, but because the paper is, in my opinion, 
the best in Russia, and strikes a really consistent note. 
To be sure, it is a Uttle dry ; and the literary side is 
not always up to the mark (but not oftener than in 
the other magazines ; all the best works of modem 
literature have appeared therein : " War and Peace," 
" Fathers and Sons," etc., to say nothing of more dis- 
tant years ; and the public knows that well) ; critical 
articles are rare (but often very remarkable, particu- 
larly when it is not a question of so-called fine 
literature) ; but then there appear annually, as every 
subscriber knows, three or four strikingly able, apt, 
individual, and in these days most necessary articles, 


such as one finds nowhere else. The public knows 
that, too. Therefore I believe that the paper, even 
if it is dry and addressed to a particular section of 
the public, cannot possibly lose ground. 

In the year 1867, Katkov told me, in the presence 
of Lyubimov and the editorial secretary, that the paper 
had five hundred more subscribers than the year before, 
which was to be attributed entirely to the success 
of my "Raskolnikov."^ I hardly think that "The 
Idiot " wiU have obtained fresh subscribers for the 
paper ; therefore I am doubly glad that, despite the 
manifest failure of the story, they still depend on me. 
The editors beg me to excuse them for being unable 
to bring out the conclusion in the December number, 
and propose to send it to subscribers as a supplement. 
This is quite peculiarly painful for me. Have you 
had the conclusion ? Do write and tell me. I get 
the Roussky Viestnik here, however; perhaps the 
supplement will come with the February number. 

From Petersburg I am told quite frankly that 
" The Idiot " has certainly many shortcomings, and is 
generally regarded as a falling off; but nevertheless 
has been followed with great interest by those who 
read at all. And that is really the utmost I aimed at. 
As to the shortcomings, I perfectly discern them ray- 
self ; I am so vexed by my eri'ors that I should like 
to have written a criticism of the book. Strachov 
means to send me his article on "The Idiot"; I 
know that he is not among my partisans. 

I clearly perceive that I am writing only about 
myself to-day ; but as I am now in that vein, I'll go 
on, and I beg you to hear me patiently. On all these 
literary matters depend now my whole future, and 

1 "Crime and Punishment." 

JET. 47] « I MUST RETURN " 171 

my return to Russia. My dearest wish is to embrace 
you all, and ever to remain with you ; perhaps it will 
really come true some day ! I needn't emphasize the 
fact, dear friend (and you will be sure to understand 
me), that my whole literary activity has embodied for 
me but one definite ideal value, but one aim, but one 
hope — and that I do not strive for fame and money, 
but only and solely for the synthesis of my imagina- 
tive and literary ideals, which means that before I die 
I desire to speiak out, in some work that shall as far ^ 
as possible express the whole of what I think. 

At the moment I am meditating a novel. It will 
be called " Atheism "; I think that I shall succeed in 
saying all that I wish to say. But think, my dear : 
I cannot possibly write here. I must absolutely be in 
Russia, I must see and hear everything, I must take 
my own part in Russian life ; and besides, the work 
would take at least two years. I can't do it here, and 
must therefore write something else in the meantime. 

On this account, life abroad becomes more unbear- 
able to me every day. You must know that I should 
have 6,000, or at the very least 5,000, roubles before 
I can think of returning to Russia. I reckoned 
originally on the success of " The Idiot." If it had 
been equal to that of " Raskolnikov," I should have 
had those 5,000 roubles. Now I must set all my 
hopes on the future. God knows when I shall be 
able to return. But return I must. 

You write of Turgenev and the Germans. Tur- 
genev, however, has lost all his talent in this foreign 
sojourn, as already the Golos has declared. Certainly 
no such danger threatens me as that of succumbing 
to Germanic influence, for I do not like the Germans. 
But I must contrive to live in Russia, for here 1 shall 


lose the last vestiges of my talent and my powers. 
I feel that, in all my being. Therefore I must talk 
to you still more about those literary matters upon 
which depend my present, my future, and my return 
to Russia. So I continue. 

The Sarya sent me, through Strachov, a second 
letter with an official request to contribute. This 
invitation comes from Strachov, from the editor 
Kachpirev, and some other contributors whom I do 
not personally know (Gradovsky is not among them) ; 
Danilevsky also (whom 1 have not seen for twenty 
years) is of the number — this is not the novelist 
Danilevsky, but another very remarkable man of the 
same name. I perceive that a set of new coadjutors 
of great distinction, and of thoroughly Russian and 
national tendency, have clustered round this journal. 
The first number impressed me deeply with its very 
frank and outspoken tone, but especially the two long 
articles by Strachov and Danilevsky. You must be 
sure to read Strachov's. It is quite certain that you 
have never read any critical writing that can compare 
with it. Danilevsky 's article, " Europe and Russia," 
is to be very long and run through several numbers. 
This Danilevsky is a most unusual phenomenon. 
Once upon a time he was a Socialist and Fourierist ; 
twenty years ago, even, when he was involved in our 
affair, he struck me as most remarkable ; from his 
banishment he returned a thorough Russian and 
Nationalist. This article (which I very particularly 
recommend to you) is his maiden effort. The paper 
seems to me, in general, to have a great future 
before it ; but will the contributors continue to pull 
together ? Again, Strachov, the real editor, strikes 
me as little fitted for a continuous task. But I 


may be mistaken. I answered the invitation to col- 
laborate thus : I was most willing (I said) to con- 
tribute to the paper ; but as my situation obliged me 
always to demand payment in advance, which, more- 
over, Katkov had always allowed me to do, I now 
begged for an advance of a thousand roubles. (It is 
not too much : what am I to live on while I'm doing 
the work ? I can't possibly ask Katkov for money, 
while I'm working for another paper.) I sent this 
letter some days ago, and am now awaiting the 
answer. All I know is this : if they have money, 
they'll send it me at once ; but I must reckon with 
the possibility that they have none, for I know from 
experience what difficulties a new journal has to 
encounter in its first year. Even if they do send 
me the thousand roubles, that will be no particular 
advantage to me. From Katkov I could have got 
quite as much, even a great deal more. The only 
advantage would be that I should at once have a 
large sum of money (which I urgently need) to dis- 
pose of ; I could then lay aside 400 roubles for Pasha 
and Emilie Fyodorovna, and besides that pay a 
peculiarly worrying debt that I owe in Petersburg : 
it is a debt of honour without any promissory note. 
It's only on account of this debt that I've asked for 
the advance. 

Again, I think it would be to my advantage to 
appear successfully before the public in another paper ; 
for then the Roussky Viestnik would esteem me more 
highly still. I fear only that the Viestnik people may 
be ofFended, although I never promised them an 
exclusive collaboration, and consequently have a right 
to work for other papers. But I don't quite like the 
fact that I still owe the B. V. about 2,000 roubles, 


for I've gradually obtained from them as much as 
7,000 roubles. It's just on that ground that they 
may take it ill of me. But three months ago, I wrote 
and told them that the novel I had promised them 
could not appear this year, but only in the course of 
next (1870). For the Sarya I want to write a story 
which would take about four months to do, and to 
which I propose to devote the hours that I had 
reserved to myself for walks and recreation after my 
fourteen months of labour. But I am afraid that the 
affair will get talked about, and that this may injure 
me with the Roussky Viestnik. . . . 

Wholly yours, 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 


To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov 

March 18 [30], 1869. 

. . . Danilevsky's article seems to me more and 
more important and valuable. It will assuredly he 
for many a day the " Household Companion " of every 
Russian. Quite apart from its content, the clear lan- 
guage, the "popular," lucid manner of presentation, 
joined to his uncompromising knowledge of his sub- 
ject—all combines for success. How I should like to 
talk with you about this article — with you, precisely 
you, Nikolay Nikolayevitch. I should have so much 
to say to you on the subject ! The article is so in 
harmony with my own views and convictions that 
here and there I stand amazed at the identity of our 
conclusions ; as long as two years ago, I began to jot 
down certain of my reflections, for I had proposed to 


write an article with a very similar title, and with the 
same tendency and the same conclusions. How 
great was my joy and amazement when I beheld this 
plan, which I had hoped to carry out in the futiu-e, 
already carried out, and that so harmoniously and 
logically, and with such knowledge as I, with the best 
will in the world, could never have brought to the 
task. I await so eagerly the continuation of that 
article that I daily hurry to the post, and am always 
making elaborate calculations as to when the next 
number of the Sarya will be likely to arrive. My 
impatience is the greater because I have some mis- 
givings about the final summing-up ; I am not quite 
sure that Danilevsky will dwell with sufficient emphasis 
upon what is the inmost essence, and the ultimate 
destiny, of the Russian nation : namely, that Russia" 
must reveal to the world her own Russian Christ, 
whom as yet the peoples know not, and who is rooted 
in our native Orthodox faith. There lies, as I believe, 
the inmost essence of our vast impending contribu-" 
tion to civilization, whereby we shall awaken the 
European peoples ; there lies the inmost core of our 
exuberant and intense existence that is to be. I can- 
not in the least express it in these few words ; indeed 
1 regret that I have touched on it at aU. I will only 
say this much more: after our paltry, hypocritical, 
angry, one-sided, and barren attitude of negation, such 
a journal as yours, with its grave, its thoroughly 
Russian, its statesmanlike and vital, tone, must un- 
doubtedly have a great success. 

[Dostoevsky goes on to praise an article by 
Strachov, and then enlarges on the purely business 
details of his proposed collaboration on the Sarya.'] 


To his Niece Sofia Alexandrovna 

August 29 [September 10], 1869. 

At last I have arrived at writing to you, my dear 
and only woman-friend Sonetchka. What can you 
have thought of my long silence ? . . . I'll tell you 
in a few words all that is worth knowing about my- 
self; I am only writing to link up our broken chain 
of communication. But I wiU say besides that my 
thoughts of you and yours have not been broken. 
Anya and I always talk of you, whenever we think of 
our Russian home, and that is many times a day. 

I remained stuck so long at Florence only because 
I had not the money to leave it. The staff of the 
Roussky Viestnik left my urgent request for money 
unanswered for more than three months (I have — 
but this between ourselves ! — grounds for supposing 
that they had no money in the till, and that that was 
the only reason why they did not answer for so long). 
At last they sent me (five weeks ago) seven hundred 
roubles to Florence. Well, dear friend, call upon 
your whole powers of imagination, and try to depict 
for yourself what we in Florence, during the whole of 
June and July, and half of August, were going 
through ! In my whole life I've never experienced 
anything like it! The guide-books may say that 
Florence, by reason of its position, is the coldest 
town in winter of all Italy (they mean the actual 
Italy — that is to say, the whole peninsula) ; but in 
summer, it is the hottest town in the whole peninsula, 


and even in the whole Mediterranean iregion — only 
some parts of Sicily and Algiers can touch Florence 
for heat. Well, and so it was as hot as hell, and we 
bore it Uke true Russians, who notoriously can bear 
anything. I may add that for the last six weeks of 
our stay there, we were very hard-up. We had not, 
it is true, to suffer actual privation in any respect, 
nor did we deny ourselves anything, but our abode 
was thoroughly uncomfortable. We had been obliged, 
for unforeseen reasons, to leave the house where we 
had spent the winter ; while we were waiting for that 
money, we went to a family with whom we are 
friendly, and rented provisionally a tiny dwelling. 
But as the money delayed to come, we had to stay 
in that hole (where we caught two beastly tarantulas) 
three whole months. 

Our windows gave on a market-square with arcades 
and splendid granite^piUars ; in the square was a 
municipal fountain in the form of a gigantic bronze 
boar from whose throat the water flowed (it is a 
classic masterpiece of rare beauty). Well, now reflect 
that all those arcades and the masses of stone by 
which the whole square is surrounded, drank in and 
accumulated all the heat of the sun, and got as 
scorching as a stove-pipe in a vapour-bath — and that 
was the atmosphere we had to live in. The real 
heat, that is, the real hell-heat, we had to groan 
under for six weeks (earlier, it was just in a sort of 
way endurable) ; it was nearly always 34 and 35 degrees 
Reaumur in the shade. You must know that the 
air, despite this heat and drought (it never once 
rained), was wonderfully light; the green in the 
gardens (of which there are astonishingly few in 
Florence ; one sees hardly anything but stones) — the 



green neither withered nor faded, but seemed brighter 
and fresher every day ; the flowers and lemon-trees 
had apparently only waited for the heat ; but what 
astonished me most — me, who was imprisoned in 
Florence by untoward circumstance — was that the 
itinerant foreigners (who are nearly all very rich) 
mostly remained in Florence ; new ones even arrived 
every day. Usually the tourists of all Europe throng, 
at the beginning of the hot weather, to the German 
spas. When I saw in the streets well-dressed 
Englishwomen and even Frenchwomen, I could not 
conceive why these people, who had money to get 
away with, could voluntarily stay in such a hell. I 
was sorriest of all for poor Anya. The poor thing 
was then in her seventh or eighth month, and so 
suffered dreadfully from the heat. Moreover, the 
population of Florence spends the whole night on 
its feet, and there's a terrible deal of singing. Of 
course we had our windows open at night; then 
about five o'clock in the morning, the people began 
to racket in the market, and the donkeys to bray, so 
that we never could close an eye. 

The distance from Florence to Prague (by Venice 
and then by boat to Trieste ; there's no other way) is 
more than a thousand versts ; I was therefore very 
anxious about Anya ; but the renowned Dr. Sapetti 
of Florence examined her and said that she could 
undertake the journey without any risk. He was 
right too, and the journey went off well. On the 
way we stopped two days in Venice ; when Anya 
saw the Piazza of St. Mark's and the palaces, she 
almost screamed with delight. In St. Mark's (the 
church is a wonderful, incomparable building I) she 
lost her carved fan which I had bought her in 


Switzerland, and which was particularly dear to her ; 
she has so few trinkets, you see. My God, how she 
did cry over it ! We Uked Vienna very much too ; 
Vienna is decidedly more beautiful than Paris. In 
Prague we spent three days looking for a place of 
abode, but found none. One can, in fact, only get 
unfiimished rooms there, as in Petersburg or Moscow ; 
then one has to get one's own furniture, and a servant- 
maid, and set up house, and so forth. Nothing else is 
to be had. Our means did not permit of it, and 
therefore we left Prague. 

Now we have been three months in Dresden ; 
Anya's confinement may happen at any moment. 
For the present we are not doing so badly ; but I am 
badly " sold," for it seems now that the hot, dry air in 
Florence was extraordinarily beneficial to my health, 
and even more so to my nerves (nor had Anya any- 
thing to complain of, rather the contrary). It was 
precisely on the hottest days that the epilepsy was 
least perceptible, and my attacks in Florence were 
much slighter than anywhere else. But here I'm 
always ill (perhaps it may be only the effect of the 
journey). I don't know if I've caught cold, or if the 
feverish attacks come from the nerves. These last 
three weeks I have had two ; both very vicious ones. 
Yet the weather is glorious. I ascribe it all to the 
fact of coming suddenly from the Italian to the 
German climate. I have fever at the actual moment, 
and think that in this climate I shall write feverishly 
— that is, incoherently. 

Now I have given you a lot of information about 
myself. Of course it is only the hundredth part ; 
besides illness, many things oppress me, of which I 
can give no idea at all. Here is an example : I must 


absolutely deliver the beginning of my novel in time 
for the January number of the Roussky Viestnik (to 
be sure I am bound to ^dmit that they do not press 
me in any way ; they behave remarkably weU to me 
and never refuse advances, though I already owe 
them a very great deal ; but I am tormented by 
pangs of conscience, and so feel just the same as li 
they did press me). Moreover, I took an advance of 
300 roubles from the Sarya early in the year, and 
that with a promise to send them this very year a 
story of at least three sheets. At the present moment 
I have not begun either the one or the other of these 
tasks ; at Florence I could not work on account 
of the heat. When I undertook the obligation, I 
reckoned on going from Florence to Germany early 
in the new year, and there setting to work at once. 
But what can I do when people make me wait three 
months for money, and thus remove from me the 
possibihty of doing anything at all ? Anya will, in 
about ten days, present me with a chUd, probably a 
boy, and this will further delay my endeavours. She 
will certainly have to keep her bed for three weeks, 
and so will not be able either to do shorthand or to 
copy for me. Of my own health, I need not speak. 
And then the work itself ! Must I, to carry out my 
commissions punctually, tumble over my own feet, as 
it were, and so spoU all ? I am now utterly possessed 
■* by one idea ; yet I dare not take any steps to carry it 
out, for I am not sufficiently prepared to do so — I 
stiU have much to ponder, and I must collect material. 
Thus I have to force myself to write, meanwhile, some 
new stories. And to me that is terrible. What lies 
before me, and how I shall arrange my affairs, is to 
me an enigma 1 . . . 


Till the next time, my dear friend. Write me a 
great deal about yourself. And above all as many 
facts as possible. -^ 

I embrace you. 

Your ever devoted 

Fyodor Dostgevsky. 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

October l6 [28], 1869. 

[The greater part of the letter deals with a business 
misunderstanding with the staff of the Sarya.'] 

What am I to do now? When shall I get my 
money now ? Why does he [Kachpirev, the editor of 
the Sarya] wait for my telegram, and request me to 
return to him the letter of exchange (" then I shall 
send you the money in the course of post," he said) 
instead of sending me now, directly, the second in- 
stalment of sfeventy-five roubles, which was due ten 
days ago ? Does he think that the letter in which I 
described my destitute condition was a piece of fine 
writing and nothing more ? How can I work, when 
I am hungry, and had to pawn my very pantaloons to 
get the two thalers for the telegram ? The devil take 
me and my hunger ! But she, my wife, who now is 
suckUng her infant, she had to go herself to the pawn- 
shop and pledge her last warm wooUen garment ! 
And it has been snowing here for the last two days (I 
am not lying : look at the newspapers !) How easily 
may she catch cold ! Isn't he capable of understand- 
ing, then, that I am ashamed of telling him all these 
things? And it's nothing like the whole of them 


either ; there are other things of which I'm ashamed: 
we haven't yet paid either the midwife or the land- 
lady ; and all these vexations must fall upon her 
precisely in the first month after her accouchement I 
Doesn't he see that it's not only me, but my wife, 
whom he insults, by taking my letter so frivolously, 
for I told him of my wife's great need. Indeed he 
has grossly insulted me ! 

Perhaps he may say : " Confound him and his 
poverty ! He must plead, and not demand, for I am 
not bound to pay him his fee in advance." Can't he 
understand that by his favourable answer to my first 
letter he did bind me ! Why did I turn to him with 
my request for 200 roubles, and not to Katkov? 
Only and solely because I believed that I should get 
the money sooner from him than from Katkov (whom 
I did not wish to trouble) ; if I had written to Katkov 
then, the money would have been in my hands at 
least a week ago I But I did not. Why ? Because 
he [Kachpirev] had bound me by his answer. Conse- 
quently he has no right to say that he confounds me 
and my poverty, and that it's an impertinence in 
me to urge him to make haste. 

But of course he will say that he has nothing to do 
with it, and that I'm impertinent. Of course he'U say 
he has done all that lay in his power, that he sent off 
the letter of exchange in the course of post, that he is 
nowise to blame, that there is a misunderstanding, 
and so forth. And by God, he really beUeves that 
he's right 1 Can he not see, then, that it's unforgiv- 
able to leave my despairing letter, in which I told him 
that through his negligence I had been so long penni- 
less — to leave it unanswered for twelve days. Yes, 
for twelve days, I am not telling a he ; I still have 


the envelope with the post-mark intact. It's unheard 
of— not to reply for six days to a telegram, that he 
himself made me send, when a letter would have taken 
only four days ! Such neghgence is unpardonable, 
insulting ! It is a personal offence. For I had told 
him about my wife and her accouchement. He had 
bound himself to me in advance, by making it seem 
superfluous that I should apply to Katkov: it is a 
serious personal offence ! 

He requests me to explain by telegram what my 
first telegram meant, and adds : " Of course at my 
expense "! Doesn't he know, then, that an unstamped 
telegram is accepted nowhere, and that consequently I 
must have two thalers before I can send one ? After 
all my letters, is he unable to divine that it's possible 
I may not have those two thalers ? It is the thought- 
lessness of a man who cares nothing for his fellow's 
perplexity. And then they demand of me lucid art, 
effortless and untroubled poetry, and point me to 
Turgenev and Gontscharov ! If they but knew the 
conditions under which I have to work ! . . . 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

Fehruary 12 [24], 1870. 

My attacks, after a long respite, are now coming 
on me terribly again, and disturb me in my work. 
I have a big idea in hand^; I don't mean that the 
execution is big, but the idea as such. It is somewhat 
in the kind of " Raskolnikov " [" Crime and Punish- 
ment "], but is still closer to actuahty, and deals with 

1 "The Possessed." 


the most weighty question of our time. I shall be 
ready with it in the autumn ; and that without over- 
hurrjdng. I shall make an effort to bring out the 
book directly — that is, in the autumn too ; if 1 can't, 
it won't matter. I hope to earn at least as much 
money with it as I did with "Raskolnikov"; and so 
look forward to having all my affairs in order by the 
end of the year, and returning to Russia. Only the 
theme is almost too intense and thrilling. I have 
never yet worked so easily and with such enjoyment. 
But enough. I must be positively slaying you with 
my interminable letters ! . . . 

[The greater part of the letter refers to his relations 
with the publisher Stellovsky, and with the staff of 
the Sarya.'] 


To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Straehov 

February 26 \March. 10], 1870. 

Much-esteemed Nikolay Nikolayevitch, 

I hasten to thank you for your letter and your 
interest in me. In foreign lands, the letters of our 
old friends are peculiarly precious to us. Maikov 
apparently means to write to me no more. With the 
deepest interest I have read the kindly lines which 
you devote to my story. ^ What you say is agreeable 
and flattering to me ; just like you, I have an earnest 
desire to please my readers. Kachpirev is satisfied, 
too ; he has written two letters in that sense. It all 
rejoices me extraordinarily ; I take particular pleasure 

1 "The Eternal Widow," which appeared in the Sarya (1870, 
Nos. 1 and 2). 

^T. 48] FIRE AND FLAME 185 

in what you tell me about the Sarya ; it is certainly 
very gratifying that the existence of the journal is 
assured. As far as its tendency is concerned, I am 
in entire agreement with it ; consequently its success 
is my success. The paper reminds me in many 
respects of the Vremya — of our youthful days. 

[Here follow some remarks upon the journal, and 
on the feasibility of Dostoevsky's further collaboration 
on the Sarya.] 

I will tell you honestly : I have never yet sought 
a theme for the money's sake, nor even from a sense 
of duty, so as to have a promised work ready by the 
appointed time. I have undertaken commissions only 
when I already had a theme ready in my head, one 
that I really desired to work out, and the working- 
out of which I considered necessary. Such a theme 
I have now. I won't enlarge upon that ; I will only 
say that I have never had a better or a more original 
idea.^ I may say this without incurring the reproach 
of lack of modesty, because I speak only of the idea, 
not of the execution of it. That lies in God's hand ; 
I may indeed spoil aU, as I have so often done ; still, 
an inward voice assures me that inspiration will not 
fail in the execution, either. Anyhow I can answer 
for the novelty of the idea, and the originality of the 
manner, and I am, at the present moment, fire and 
flame. It is to be a novel in two parts of at least 
twelve, and at most fifteen, sheets (so I see it at this 

[There follow considerations of the feasibility of 
bringing out the new novel in the Sarya.] 

* He here again refers to the still projected novel " Atheism 
(see letters to Maikov of December 11, 1868,and March 25, 1870) 


So I await your answer ; and make you, besides, 
one great and urgent request : Send me if possible, 
putting it down against my forthcoming resources 
(as you once sent me Tolstoy's " War and Peace ") 
Stankevitch's book upon Granovsky. You will do 
me thereby a great service, which I shall never forget. 
I want the book as urgently as I want air to breathe, 
and that as soon as possible ; I need it as material for 
ray work^; without that book I can do nothing. 
Don't forget it, for Christ's sake; send it me, no 
matter how you manage it. . . . 


To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachofv 

March 24 [April 5], 1870. 

I hasten, much-esteemed Nikolay Nikolayevitch, 
to answer your letter, and I shall come at once to 
myself. I want to tell you, decisively and frankly, 
that, after the closest consideration, I cannot possibly 
promise to have the novel ready so soon as the autumn. 
It appears to me quite impracticable ; and I should 
like to beg the staff not to press me, for I want to 
do my work quite as carefully and neatly as certain 
gentlemen (that is, the Great Ones) do theirs. All 1 
will guarantee is that the novel shall be ready in the 
January of the coming year. This work is more to 
me than aught else. The idea is more precious to 
me than any of my other ideas, and I want to do it 
well. ... I also set great hopes on the novel which 

* Dostoevsky gave the character of Stepan Trophimovitch 
Verchovensky in " The Possessed " some of the traits of Granovsky. 


'_r\ - 



■4, ^d./7.'fl.^ /^y > ^^ 










Ml. 48] «« THE " NOVEL 187 

I am now writing^ for the Boussky Viestnik ; 1 don't 
mean as a work of art, but because of its tendencies ; 
I mean to utter certain thoughts, whether all the 
artistic side of it goes to the dogs or not. The 
thoughts that have gathered themselves together in 
my head and my heart are pressing me on ; even if 
it turns into a mere pamphlet, I shall say all that I 
have in my heart. I hope for success. For that 
matter, who ever sets himself to a task without 
so hoping? This work for the Roussky Viestnik 
I shall soon have finished, and then I can turn with 
gusto to the novel. 

I have been meditating the idea of this novel for 
three years ; till now I have not been able to make up 
my mind to attack it in these foreign lands ; I wanted 
not to begin tUl I was in Russia. But during these 
three years, the whole conception has matured within 
me, and 1 think that I can begin the first part (which 
I intend for the Sarya) even here, for the action of 
that part is concerned with many years ago. You 
need not be uneasy when I speak of a " first part." 
The idea demands great length ; at least as great as in 
the Tolstoyan novels. It will really be a cycle of five 
distinct stories ; these will be so independent of one 
another that any one of them (except the two that 
come midway) could perfectly well be published in 
different journals as completely separate works. The 
general title is to be : " The Life-Story of a Great 
Sinner,"^ and each separa;te tale will have its own 
title as well. Each division (that is, each siagle 
story) will be about fifteen sheets at most in length. 

* " The Possessed." 

* This, like " Atheism," is the original idea, never completely 
carried out, of " The Brothers Karamazov." 


To write the second story, 1 must he in Russia ; the 
action of that part takes place in a Russian monastery; 
although I know the Russian monasteries well, I 
must nevertheless come back to Russia. I should 
like to have said much more about it to you, but 
what can one say in a letter? I repeat, however, 
that I can't possibly promise the novel for this year ; 
don't press me, and you will get a conscientious, 
perhaps even a really good, work (at aU events I have 
set myself this idea as the goal of my literary future, 
for I can't at all hope to live and work more than six 
or seven years longer). 

I have read the March number of the Sarya with 
great enjoyment. I await impatiently the continua- 
tion of your article, so that I may grasp it in its 
entirety. It seems to me that your point is to show 
Herzen as an Occidentalist, and in general to «peak 
of the Occident in contradistinction to Russia ; am 
I right ? You chose your point of departure very 
cleverly ; Herzen is a pessimist ; but do you really 
hold his doubts (" Who is guilty ?" " Krupov," and 
the rest) to be insoluble ? It seems to me that you 
evade that question, in order to give your funda- 
mental idea more value. Anyhow I await most 
eagerly the continuation of the article ; the theme is 
positively too exciting and actual. What will come 
of it, if you really adduce the proof that Herzen, 
earUer than many others, pointed to the decadence 
of the West ? What will the Occidentalists of the 
Granovsky period say to that ? To be sure, I don't 
know if that is what you really are working up to ; 
it is only a presentiment of mine. Don't you, more- 
over, think (although it has nothing to do with the 
theme of your article) that there is another stand- 

iET. 48] TOLSTOY 189 

point from which to judge the character and activi- 
ties of Herzen — namely that he ever and always was 
first of all a writer ? The writer in him prevails ever 
and always, in everything that he does. The agitator 
is a writer, the politician a writer, the Socialist a 
writer, the philosopher, to the last degree, a writer ! 
This peculiarity of his nature is, I think, explanatory 
of much in his work ; even to his levity and his love 
of punning when he is treating the most serious moral 
and philosophical questions (which, by-the-bye, is 
not a Uttle repellent in him). 

[He then speaks of Strachov's polemical articles, 
which Dostoevsky thinks too mild : " The Nihilists 
and Occidentahsts deserve the knout."] 

You maintain, among other things, that Tolstoy 
is equal to any of our greatest writers ; with that 
passage in your letter I cannot possibly say that I 
agree. It is a thing that ought not to be affirmed I 
Pushkin and Lomonossov were geniuses. A writer 
who steps forward with the " Negro of Peter the 
Great " and " Bielkin " comes bringing a message of 
genius, a new message, that nobody before him has 
anywhere whatever delivered. But when such an one 
comes with " War and Peace," he comes after that 
new message which had been already delivered by 
Pushkin; and this stands fast, however far Tolstoy 
may go in the development of that message already 
delivered before him by another genius. I hold this 
to be very important. But I can't explain myself at 
all fully in these few lines. . . . 



To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 


March 25 [April 6], 1870. 

[The first half of the letter deals with business 

The job for the Boussky Viestnik will not particu- 
larly tax me ; but I have promised the Sarya a real 
piece of work, and I want really to do it. This latter 
has been maturing in my brain for two years past. 
It is the same idea about which I have already once 
written to you. This will be my last novel ; it will 
be as long as " War and Peace." I know from our 
one-time talks that you wiU approve the idea. The 
novel will consist of five longish tales (each of fifteen 
sheets ; in these two years my plan has fuUy ripened). 
The tales are complete in themselves, so that one 
could even sell them separately. The first I intend 
for Kachpirev ; its action lies in the 'forties. (The title 
of the whole book will be " The Life-Story of a Great 
Sinner," but each part will have its own title as 
well.) The fundamental idea, which will run through 
each of the parts, is one that has tormented me, con- 
sciously and unconsciously, aU my life long : it is the 
question of the existence of God. The hero is now 
an atheist, now a believer, now a fanatic and sectarian, 
and then again an atheist. The second story will 
have for its setting a monastery. On this second story 
I base all my hopes. Perhaps people will admit at last 
that 1 can write something but pure nonsense. (I 
will confide to you alone, Apollon Nikolayevitch, 
that in this second story the principal character 


is to be taken from Tikhon Zadonsky ; of course 
under another name, but also as a Bishop who has 
Avithdrawn to a monastery for repose.) A thirteen- 
yeared boy, who has been concerned in a serious 
erime, a lad intellectually mature, but utterly corrupt 
(I know the type), and the future hero of the novel 
as a whole — has been sent by his parents to the 
monastery to be there brought up. The little 
wolf, the little Nihilist, there comes in contact with 
Tikhon. In the same monastery is to be found 
Tchaadayev^ (also of course under another name). 
Why should not Tchaadayev have spent a year in 
a monastery? Let us suppose that Tchaadayev, 
after that first article which caused him to be weekly 
examined by physicians as to his state of mind, had 
been unable to refrain from publishing a second 
article somewhere abroad (say, in France) ; it is quite 
conceivable ; and for this article he gets banished for 
a year to a monastery. But he is allowed to receive 
visitors there — for example, Bielinsky, Granovsky, 
even Pushkin, and others. (Of course it is not to be 
the actual Tchaadayev ; I only want to display the 
type.) At the monastery there is also a Paul the 
Prussian, a Golubov, and a Monk Parfeny. (I know 
the milieu through and through ; I have been famihar 
with the Russian monasteries from childhood.) But 
the principal figures are to be Tikhon and the boy. 
For God's sake, don't tell anyone what this second 
part is to be about. Usually I never tell anybody 
about my work beforehand ; only to you would I 
whisper it ; whatever others may think of the value 

' Pyotr Yakovlevitch Tchaadayev (1796-1856), a philosopher, 
author of " Philosophical Letters," after the publication of which 
he was declared by Nicholas I. to be mad. 


of my plan, to me it is worth more than aught else. 
Don't talk to anybody about Tikhon. I have told 
Strachov about the monastery idea, but said no word 
about the figure of Tikhon. Perhaps I shall succeed 
in creating a majestic, authentic saint. Mine is to be 
quite different from Kostanchoglov,^ and also from 
the German in Gontscharov's " Oblomov." I shall 
probably not create at all, but present the real Tikhon, 
who has long been shrined in my heart. But even a 
close, faithful delineation I should regard it as a great 
achievement to succeed in. Don't talk to anyone 
about it. Now, to write this second part of the novel, 
which goes on in the monastery, I must absolutely 
be in Russia. Ah, if I could but bring it off ! The 
first part deals with the childhood of my hero. Of 
course there are other characters besides children; 
it is a real novel. This first part, fortunately, I can 
write even here ; I shall offer it to the Sarya. Will 
they not refuse it, though ? But a thousand roubles 
is no very excessive fee. . . . 

Nihilism isn't worth talking about. Only wait 
until this scum that has cut itself adrift from Russia, 
is quite played-out. And, do you know, I really 
think that many of the young scoundrels, decadent 
boys that they are, will sooner or later turn over 
a new leaf, and be metamorphosed into decent, 
thorough-going Russians ? And the rest may go 
rot. But even they will finally hold their tongues, 
for sheer impotence. What scoundrels they are, 
though I . . . 

1 In Gogol's " Dead Souls." 



To his Sister Vera, and his Niece Sofia 
A lexandrovna 

May 7 [19], 1870. 

My dear Friends Sonetchka and Verotchka, 
I have not written to you for much too long a 
period ; the reason is not my laziness, but lies in my 
many recent anxieties and my generally depressed 
condition of mind. 

We are stiU living in Dresden, and are at present 
comfortable enough. Little Lyuba is a dear and 
most healthy child. As we have already lost a child, 
we are very anxious about this one. Anya is nursing, 
and it is clear that she finds it more and more trying 
to . her every day. She has grown very thin and 
weak, and is consumed with home-sickness. I too 
long frightfully for Russia, and from that longing 
arises my constant enervation. My affairs are in the 
worst conceivable condition. AVe certainly have 
quite enough to live on, but we cannot even think of 
returning to Russia. Nevertheless, I must get back 
somehow, for life here is to me quite unbearable. To 
go from here to Petersburg, we should have to make 
a move before October ; later it will be too cold, and 
the httle one might easily catch a chill. Moreover, to 
pay our debts here before we leave, we should need at 
least three hundred roubles ; besides that, the travel- 
ling expenses for our whole family and for the instal- 
ment in Petersburg : the whole amounts to no small 
sum. But this is not all ; the principal thing is the 
creditors. I owe them, with the interest, nearly 



6,000 roubles. Less than a third — that is, 2,000 
roubles — I cannot offer them, if they are to consent 
to wait a year for the rest. But they would not agree 
to do that, even if I paid this third. They are all 
furious with me, and would certainly come down 
without mercy, in order to punish me. So you can 
reckon for yourself what a sum I must have to settle 
all, and be able to come back : that is, from three to 
four thousand roubles at least. Where am I to get 
such an amount ? The one thing I can build on is 
my literary labour. Three years ago, when I left 
Russia, I cherished the same hopes. I had just had 
great success with a novel, and it is therefore compre- 
hensible that 1 should still be filled with the hope of 
writing another which will enable me to get rid of all 
my debts in a year or so. But at that time I paid 
three creditors seven thousand roubles all of a sudden, 
and this enraged the others, who came down on me, 
demanding to know why I had satisfied those three 
creditors, and not the rest as well. They indicted 
me, and I took to my heels, but in the hope that I 
should manage to write another novel in a year and 
pay off* all my debts. That hope was mistaken. The 
novel has been a failure, and in addition there has 
happened something- that I could not have foreseen : 
namely, that through being obliged to live away from 
Russia for so long, I am losing the capacity to write 
decently at all, and so could hope nothing from a 
fresh attempt at a novel. (These difficulties are less 
of an intellectual than a material nature : for example, 
while I live abroad I can have no personal outlook 
upon the most ordinary events of our period.) I have 
a plan for a new novel, the success of which I con- 
sider an absolute certainty; but I cannot decide to 

^T. 48] « THE POSSESSED " 195 

Avrite it here, and am obliged to postpone it. For the 
moment I am writing a very odd story ^ for the 
Boussky Ftestnik; I have to work off an advance 
from them. 

You remember, I daresay, my dear Sonetchka, 
what you wrote with regard to the novel which I 
did over here : that you wondered how I could under- 
take and bind myself to get such a work done in a 
fixed space of time. But the work which I am now 
writing for the Boussky Viestnik is a good deal more 
arduous still. I have to cram into twenty-five sheets 
material which ought to take at least fifty, and that 
only because it must be finished by a certain date ; 
and I have to do this, because for the moment, while 
I am Uving abroad, I can't write anything else. The 
people at the Sarya office praised beyond measure a 
little story that I published in that journal. Even 
the newspaper critics (on the Golos, the Peter- 
bourgskaya Listok,^ etc.) were most benevolent. But 
you will hardly believe how it revolts me to write 
that kind of thing when I have so many fully formed 
ideas in my mind : that is, to write something quite 
different from what I want to be at. You can surely 
understand, Sonetchka, that that alone is great 
torment, and added to it is the desperate state of my 
affairs. Since I have been absent from Petersburg, 
all my business matters and connections there have 
been frightfully neglected (although " The Idiot " did 
miss fire, several publishers wanted to buy the rights 
of the second edition from me ; they offered me 
relatively good terms — from a thousand five hundred 
to two thousand roubles). But all these projects fell 
through, for I had no one in Petersburg to look after 

^ "The Possessed." ^ Petersburg News. 


the business for me. Well, that's how it stands with 
me. And I say nothing of how very much I grieve 
for Anna Grigorovna, longing so terribly as she does 
for Russia. I can't possibly tell everything in this 
letter. But I have finally resolved to return to 
Russia, in any event, in the autumn of this year, and 
shaU quite decidedly get it done somehow. Of course, 
too, I shall come to Moscow (for business reasons, if 
for no others) ; that is, if the creditors do not put me 
in a Petersburg prison so soon as I arrive there. In 
any case I hope to see you all again, my dears, at the 
beginning of the winter. 
In truest love : 

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anya, and Lyuba. 


To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov 

June 11 [23], 1870. 

[In the first half of the letter Dostoevsky complains 
of Kachpirev, who has not agreed to his proposal 
with regard to " The Life-Story of a Great Sinner."] 

By chance the Viestnik Europi'^ for the current 
year fell into my hands, and I looked through all the 
numbers that have appeared. I was amazed. How 
can this unbelievably mediocre journal (which at its 
best can only be classed with the Northern Bee of 
Bulgaria) have such vogue with us (6,000 copies in 
the second edition I). It is because they know their 
business. How deftly they adopt the popular tone ! 
An insipid pattern for Liberalism ! These are the 

' The European, Gazette : a monthly. 


things we like. But the paper is, nevertheless, very 
well managed. It appears punctually each month, 
and has a varied stafF of contributors. I read, among 
other things, "The Execution of Tropmann," by 
Turgenev. You may be of a different opinion, Nikolay 
Nikolayevitch, but I was infuriated by that preten- 
tious and paltry piece of pathos. Why does he keep 
on explaining that he was very wrong to look on at 
the execution ? Certainly he was, if the whole thing 
was a mere drama for him ; but the sons of men 
have not the right to turn away from anything that 
happens on the earth and ignore it ; no, on the 
highest moral grounds they have not. Homo sum et 
nihil humani . . . and so forth. Peculiarly comic is 
it, when at the last moment he does turn away, and 
thus avoids seeing the actual execution. " Look you, 
gentlemen, of what delicate upbringing I am ! I 
could not endure that sight I" All through, he 
betrays himself. The most definite impression that 
one gets from the whole article is that he is desper- 
ately cdncemed {with himself and his own peace of 
mind, even when it comes to the cutting off of heads. 
Oh, I spit upon the whole business. I am fairly sick 
of folk. I consider Turgenev the most played-out 
of all played-out Russian writers, whatever you, 
Nikolay Nikolayevitch, may write in Turgenev's 
favour : please, don't take it ill of me. . . . 



To his Niece Sfioa Alexandrovna 


My dear Sonetchka, -^"'^ ^ C^*^' '''''■ 

I really wished to answer your last letter in- 
stantly, but have again delayed my reply. Blame 
my work and various anxieties for that. And besides, 
you, like aU my Moscow friends, have the bad habit 
of giving no address in your letters. 

From your letter I conclude that you have moved. 
Where then am I to address you ? You should, you 
know, reckon also with the possibility of my having 
mislaid or lost the letter in which you gave your last 
address. As it is, I have spent three days looking 
through all my correspondence for the last three 
years. But I happen to remember your old address, 
and there I send this letter. WiU it reach you, I 
wonder ? Such doubts discourage me. I beseech 
you not to write your letters, at any rate not those 
to me, in the woman's way — that is, not to omit date 
and address ; by God, we shall manage better so ! 

Your letter made a very mournful impression on 
me, dear. Is it really a fact that if you go into the 
country, they won't give you any more translation 
to do, even in the autumn ? Why do you so torment 
yourself ? You need happiness and healthy surround- 
ings. You work from early morning till far into the 
night. You must marry. My dear Sonetchka, for 
Christ's sake don't be angry with me for saying that. 
Happiness is meted out to us but once in Hfe ; all 
that comes afterwards is merely pain. We must 
prepare ourselves for this beforehand, and arrange 

^T. 48] A SCOLDING 199 

our lives as normally as possible. Forgive me for 
writing to you in this tone, when I have not seen 
you for three years. I don't mean it for advice ; it is 
only my most cherished desire. For I must love 
you — I cannot help it I 

As for my return to Russia, it is of course but a 
possibility of the fancy, which may come true, yet 
nevertheless is a mere dream. We shall see. And 
as for the rest of your counsels (with regard to the 
sale of the novel, the return without money, in face 
of the possibiUty of being clapped into jail by the 
creditors, and so forth), I must tell you that your 
whole letter displays your inexperience and your 
ignorance of the questions at issue. I have been 
occupied with literature for twenty-five years, but 
have never yet known a case of the author himselt 
offering the booksellers his second edition (still less 
through the agency of strangers, to whom it matters 
nothing). If one offers the wares one's-self, one gets 
only a tenth of their value. But if the publisher, 
that is to say the purchaser, comes to one of his own 
accord, one gets ten times as much. " The Idiot " came 
too late ; it should have appeared in earlier years. 
Then, as to the creditors, they will, as sure as death, 
imprison me, for therein hes their sole advantage. 
Believe me, these gentry know very precisely how 
much I can get from the Roussky Viestnik or the 
Sarya. They will have me imprisoned in the hope 
that one or the other journal, or, if not, somebody 
else, will get me out. That is dead certain. No — 
if I am to come back, I must do it quite differently. 

I find it very hard to have to look on and see 
Anna Grigorovna consumed by home-sickness and 
longing as she is. That troubles me more than 


aught else. The child is healthy, but has not yet 
been weaned. Return is now my one fixed idea. 
If I go on living here much longer, I shall lose all 
power to earn anything ; nobody will consent to 
print me. In Russia, at the worst I could edit 
school-books or compilations. Well, anyhow, it's 
not worth while wasting words upon this matter, I 
shall most decidedly return, even if it is to be put in 
jail. I should like just to finish the work that I am 
doing for the Roussky Viestnik, so that 1 might be 
left in peace. And yet, as things are, I can't, in any 
case, get done before Christmas. The first long half 
of the work I shall deliver to the office in six weeks, 
and get a little money. The second half I shall send 
at the beginning of the winter, and the third — in 
February. Printing will have to begin in this coming 
January. 1 am afraid that they will simply send 
back my novel, I shall tell them from the very first 
that I don't intend to alter or take out anything in 
the book. The idea of this novel seemed to me most 
attractive at first, but now I am sorry that I ever 
began it. Not that it does not still interest me, but 
I should prefer to write something else. 

As often as I write to you, I feel what a long space 
of time divides us from one another. And by-the-bye, 
there's another thing : I have the most fervent desire 
to take, before my return to Russia, a trip to the East 
— that is, to Constantinople, Athens, the Archipelago, 
Syria, Jerusalem, and Athos. This trip would cost at 
least 1,500 roubles. But the expenses would not 
signify: I could cover them all by writing a book 
about the visit to Jerusalem ; I know by experience 
that such books are very popular nowadays. But for 
the moment I have neither the time nor the means ; 

^T. 48] AN « IRISH " POSTSCRIPT 201 

and yesterday I read, in an extra-edition, that at any 
moment there may be war between France and 
Prussia. So much combustible material has accumu- 
lated everywhere, that the war, so soon as it begins, 
must assume formidable dimensions. God grant that 
Russia may not be mixed up in any of the European 
entanglements ; we have enough to do at home. 

I love you and yours beyond all bounds, and I hope 
you will beUeve that. Love me also a little. I do 
not wish to die on German soil ; I want before my 
death to return home, and there die. 

My wife and Lyuba send kisses. It is very hot 
here with us, and yesterday, after a long respite, I 
had an attack again. To-day my head is quite 
muddled ; I feel as if I were crazy. 

Till the next time, my dears — ^forget me not. 

I embrace and kiss you. 


Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

P.S. If I get no answer to this letter, I shall 
conclude that it has not reached you. My address 
is: AUemagne, Saxe, Dresden, a M. Theodore 
Dostoevsky, Poste restante. 


To his Niece Sofia Alejcandrovna 


August 17 [29], 1870. 

My dear Friend Sonetchka, 

Forgive me for not having at once answered 
on receiving your letter of August 3 (I got your 
short letter of July 28 also). I have, often, so many 
anxieties and disagreeables that I have not the energy 


to begin anything, least of all a letter. Only my 
work has to be done in any condition of mind — and 
I do it; but there are times when I am not equal 
even to that, and then I abandon all. My life is not 
an easy one. This time I want to write to you about 
my situation : to be sure I don't like letter-writing, 
for I find it hard, after so many years of separation, 
to write of things that are of consequence to me, and 
especially to write in such a way that you will under- 
stand me. Lively letters one can write only to those 
with whom one has no relations of aflfection. 

The most important thing is that now I must 
return to Russia. That idea is simple enough ; but 
I couldn't possibly describe to you in full detail all 
the torments and disadvantages that I have to endure 
in these foreign lands ; of the moral torments (the 
longing for home, the necessity of being in touch with 
Russian life which as a writer is essential to me, etc.), 
I won't at all speak. How unbearable are the 
anxieties about my family alone ! I see clearly how 
Anya longs for home, and how terribly she languishes 
here. At home, too, I could earn much more money ; 
here we are absolutely impoverished. We have just 
enough to live on, it is true ; but we cannot keep a 
nursemaid. A nursemaid here requires a room to 
herself, her washing, and high wages, three meals a 
day, and a certain amount of beer (of course only 
from foreigners). Anya is nursing the baby, and 
never gets a full night's rest. She has no amuse- 
ments of any kind, and usually not one moment to 
herself. Also her state of health leaves something to 
be desired. Why do I tell you all this, though? 
There are hundreds of similar little troubles, and 
together they make up a heavy burden. How gladly, 

^T. 48] SONETCHKA'S WAY 203 

for example, would I go to Petersburg this autumn 
with my wife and child (as I pictured to myself early 
in the year) ; but to get away from here and travel to 
Russia I must have not less than 2,000 roubles ; nor 
am I therein reckoning my debts — I need so much as 
that for the journey alone. Oh yes ! I can see you 
shrugging your shoulders and asking: "Why so 
much? What is the good of this exaggeration?" 
Do, my dear, for Heaven's sake get out of your 
habit of judging other people's affairs without know- 
ing all the circumstances. Two thousand roubles are 
absolutely necessary to do the journey, and to instal 
ourselves in Petersburg. You may believe me when 
I say it. Where am I to get hold of the money ? 
And now we must be getting the child weaned, and 
vaccinated too. Only think what a fresh crop of cares 
for Anya, who is already run-down and feeble. I have 
to look on at it all, and am nearly driven out of my 
senses. And if I do get the money for the journey 
in three months, the winter will just be upon us, and 
one can't drag an infant over a thousand versts in 
frosty weather. Consequently we shall have to wait 
tiU early spring. And shall we even then have 
money ? You must know that we can scarcely 
manage on our income here, and have to go into 
debt for half we need. But enough of that. I want 
to talk of other things now, though they're all con- 
nected with the principal subject. 

I forget whether I've written to you about my 
difficulties with the Roussky Viestnik ; the fact is 
that at the end of last year I published a story in the 
Sarya, while I still had to work off an advance from 
the Roussky Viestnik; it was a year since I had 
promised them the work. Did I tell you how it 


came about ? How my novel got unexpectedly long, 
and how I suddenly perceived that there was no time 
to get anything written by the beginning of the year 
for the Roussky Viestnik ? They made me no reply 
about the matter, but ceased to send money. At 
the beginning of this year I wrote to Katkov that 
I would deliver the novel chapter by chapter from 
June, so that they could print at the end of the year. 
Then I worked at the utmost limit of my energy and 
my powers ; I knew that if I were to break oflF my 
literary connection with the Roussky Viestnik, I 
should have no means of livelihood here abroad (for 
it is very difficult to enter into fresh relations with 
another journal from a distance). And besides I was 
frightfully distressed by the thought that they were 
calling me a rogue at the office, when they had 
always treated me so extraordinarily well. The novel 
at which I was working was very big, very original, 
but the idea was a little new to me. I needed great 
self-confidence to get equal with that idea — and as 
a matter of fact I did not get equal with it, and the 
book went wrong. I pushed on slowly, feeling that 
there was something amiss with the whole thing, but 
unable to discover what it was. In July, directly 
after my last letter to you, I had a whole succession 
of epileptic fits (they recurred every week). I was so 
reduced by them that for a whole month I dared not 
even think of working ; work might have been actually 
dangerous to me. And when, a fortnight ago, I set to 
again, I suddenly saw quite clearly why the book had 
gone so ill, and where the error lay ; as if possessed by 
sudden inspiration, I saw in an instant a quite new plan 
for the book. I had to alter the whole thing radically ; 
without much hesitation 1 struck out all that I had 

iET. 48] A WRITER'S LOT 205 

written up to that time (about fifteen sheets in all), 
and began again at the first page. The labour of 
a whole year was destroyed. If you only knew, 
Sonetchka, how grievous it is to be a writer — that is, 
to bear a writer's lot ! Do you know that I am abso- 
lutely aware that if I could have spent two or three 
years at that book — as Turgenev, Gontscharov, and 
Tolstoy can — I could have produced a work of which 
men would still be talking in a hundred years from 
now 1 I am not boasting ; ask your conscience and 
your memory if I have ever yet boasted. The idea 
is so good and so significant that I take off my own 
hat to it. But what will come to pass ? I know very 
well : I shall get it done in eight or nine months, and 
utterly spoil it. Such a work demands at least two 
or three years. (It wiU, even so, be very extensive — 
as much as thirty-five sheets.) Separate details and 
characters wiU perhaps come not so badly off; but 
only sketchily. Much will be " half-baked," and much 
a great deal too drawn-out. Innumerable beauties I 
shall have altogether to renounce getting in, for 
inspiration depends in many respects upon the time 
one has at disposal. And yet I am setting to work I 
It is terrible ; it is like a determined suicide ! But 
it's not even the most Important thing : the most 
important thing is that all my calculations are upset. 
At the beginning of the year, I was confidently hoping 
that I should succeed in sending a considerable portion 
of the novel to the Boussky Fiestnik by the first of 
August, and so^ bettering my situation. What am 
I to do now ? At earliest I shall be able to dehver 
a small portion by September 1st (I wanted to send 
a lot at once, so as to have an excuse for requesting 
an advance) ; now I am ashamed to ask for money ; 


the first part (it is to be in five parts) will consist of 
only seven sheets — how can 1 ask for an advance? 
AH my calculations having thus proved false, I don't 
know at this moment what on earth I am to live 
on. And it is in such a state of mind that I must 
labour ! 

[He writes further of his somewhat strained rela- 
tions with the Roussky Viestnik.'] 

All this worries me, and deprives me of the tran- 
quillity that I need for the work ; and there are 
other things besides, which I do not mention at all. 
With this beginning of the war, all credit has very 
nearly ceased, so that hving is much more difficult. 
But I shall get through it somehow or other. The 
most important thing, though, is health ; and my 
state has considerably worsened. 

With your views on war I can't possibly agree. 
Without war, people grow torpid in riches and com- 
fort, and lose the power of thinking and feeling 
nobly ; they get brutal, and fall back into barbarism. 
1 am not speaking of individuals, but of whole races. 
Without pain, one comprehends not joy. Ideals are 
purified by suffering, as gold is by fire. Mankind 
must strive for his Heaven. France has of late 
become brutaUzed and degraded. A passing trial 
will do her no harm ; France will be able to endure 
it, and then will awake to a new life, and new ideas. 
But hitherto France has been dominated on the one 
hand by old formulas, and on the other by craven- 
heartedness and pleasure-seeking. 

The Napoleonic dynasty will be impossible hence- 
forth. New life and reformation of the country are 
so important that even the bitterest trials are nothing 

iET. 48] AFTER SEDAN 207 

by comparison. Do you not recognize God's hand 
in it? 

Also our politics of the last seventy years — I mean 
Russian, European, and German politics — must 
inevitably alter. The Germans will at last show 
us their real faces. Everywhere in Europe great 
changes must inevitably come — and of their own 

What new life will be called forth everywhere by 
this mighty shock ! For want of great conceptions, 
even science has sunk into arid materialism ; what 
does a passing blow signify in face of that ? 

You write " People kill and wound, and then 
nurse the wounded." Do but think of the noblest 
words that ever yet were spoken : " I desire love, and 
not sacrifice." At this moment, or at any rate in a 
few days, there will, I believe, be much decided. Who 
betrayed whom ? Who made a strategical error ? 
The Germans or the French ? I believe, the 

Or rather, ten days ago I was of that opinion. 
But now it appears to me that the Germans wiU keep 
the upper hand a while longer ; the French are on 
the verge of an abyss, into which they are bound to 
plunge for a time — by that I mean the dynastic 
interests to which the fatherland is being sacri- 
ficed. I could tell you much of German opinion, 
which I can observe here, and which is very signi- 
ficant in the present political crisis; but I have no 

T greet you all. Remember me to everyone. I 
embrace you from my heart ; do not forget that no 
one is so cordially inclined to you as I am. I am 
glad that I have been able to write to you. Write 


to me, don't forget me ; I am now setting to again 
at my forced labour. 

With heart and soul, your Fygdor Dostoevsky. 

When I think of the Petersburg relatives, my 
heart aches. I can send them nothing before the 
beginning of next year, though they are in great 
distress. This weighs heavily on my conscience; I 
had promised to aid them ; about Pasha I am par- 
ticularly grieved. 

P.S. You don't understand my position with the 
creditors ; that is why you think it would not be 
worth their while to put me in prison. On the 
contrary : they will quite certainly have me arrested, 
for in many respects it would be of great advantage 
to them. I forget whether I told you that I have 
hopes of procuring, immediately after my arrival in 
Petersburg, the use of about 5,000 roubles for about 
three years. That would save me from imprisonment. 
Nor is such a hope entirely without foundation. But 
I must do the business personally ; if I attempted it 
from here, I might spoil all. The plan has nothing 
to do with my literary activities. At the same time, 
if my present novel should make a success, my hopes 
for these 5,000 roubles would be sensibly improved. 
This is aU between ourselves. 

Till next time, my dears. 



JET. 49] « THE POSSESSED " 209 


To Nikolay Nikohyevitch Strachov 

October 9 [21], 1870 

I have not written to you till now, because I have 
been uninterruptedly occupied with the novel for the 
Eoussky Viestnik. The work was going so badly, and 
I had to re-write so much, that at last I vowed to 
myself that I would read nothing and write nothing, 
j and hardly even raise my head from my desk, until I 
had accomplished what I had set myself to do. And 
I am only at the beginning now ! It is true that many 
scenes belonging to the middle of the novel are ready 
written, and separate bits of what I have rejected 1 
shall still be able to use. Nevertheless, I am still at 
work on the earliest chapters. That is a bad omen, 
and yet I mean to make the thing as good as may be. 
The truth is that the tone and style of a story must 
make themselves. But true as that is, one occasion- 
ally loses one's note, and has to find it again. In a 
f word : none of my works has given me so much 
' trouble as this one. At the beginning, that is at the 
end of last year, I thought the novel very " made " 
and artificial, and rather scorned it. But later I was 
overtaken by real enthusiasm, I fell in love with my 
work of a sudden, and made a big effort to get all 
that I had written into good trim. Then, in the 
summer, came a transformation : up started a new, 
vital character, who insisted on being the real hero of 
the book ; the original hero (a most interesting figure, 
but not worthy to be called a hero) fell into the 
background. The new one so inspired me that I 



once more began to go over the whole afresh. And 
now, when I have akeady sent the beginning to 
the office of the Roussky Viestnik, I am suddenly 
possessed with terror — I fear that 1 am not equal to 
the theme I have chosen. This dread torments me 
horribly. And yet I have not arbitrarily dragged in 
my hero. I arranged for his entire rdle in the 
synopsis of the book (I prepared a synopsis in several 
sheets, and sketched therein the entire action, though 
without the dialogues and comments). Therefore I 
hope that I may stiU bring off this hero, and even 
make him a quite new and original figure ; I hope 
and fear simultaneously. For it is really time that I 
wrote something important at last. Perhaps it wiU 
all burst up Mke a soap-bubble. But come what come 
will, I must write ; the many re-fashionings have lost 
me much time, and I have very Uttle ready . . . 

[The rest is concerned with journalism and the 


To Apollon Nikoluyeoitch Maikov 

December 15 [27], 1870. 

I have undertaken a task to which my powers are 
not equal. I attacked a big novel (a novel " with a 
purpose" — most unusual for me), and at first I 
thought I should manage it quite easily. But what 
has been the issue ? When I had tried about ten 
settings, and saw what the theme demanded, 1 got 
very much out of heart with the thing. The first 
part I finished because I simply had to (it is very 
long, about ten sheets ; and there are to be four parts 


in all), and sent it off. 1 believe that that first part is 
empty and quite ineffective. From it the reader 
can't at all perceive what I'm aiming at, or how the 
action is to develop. The Roussky Viestnik people 
expressed themselves quite flatteringly about this 
beginning. The novel is called "The Possessed" 
(they are the same " possessed " about whom I wrote 
to you before), and has a motto from the Gospels. I 
want to speak out quite openly in this book, with no 
ogling of the younger generation. I can't possibly 
say all I should like in a letter. 

[He then speaks of his account with the publisher 


To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

December 30, 1870. 

Yes, 1 am resolute to return, and shall certainly be 
in Petersburg early in the year. Here, I am con- 
stantly in such a frightful state of mind that I can 
hardly write at all. Work is dreadfully difficult to 
me. I follow Russian and German happenings with 
feverish interest ; I have been through much in these 
four years. It has been a strenuous, if a lonely, 
existence. Whatever God shall send me in the 
future, I will humbly accept. My family, too, 
weighs heavily on my mind. In a word, I need 
human intercourse. 

Strachov has written to me that everything in our 
society is stiU fearftiUy puerile and crude. If you 
knew how acutely one realizes that from here ! But 


if you knew, besides, what a deep-drawn repulsion, 
almost approaching hatred, I have conceived for the 
whole of Western Europe during these four years ! 

My God, how terrible are our prepossessions with 
regard to foreign countries ! Are Russians simple- 
tons, then, that they can believe it is through their 
schooling that the Prussians have come off con- 
querors ? Such a view is positively sinful : it's a fine 
schooling whereby children are harassed and tor- 
mented, as it were by Attila's horde, and even worse. 

You write that the national spirit of France is in 
revolt against brute force. From the beginning I 
have never doubted that if only the French will not 
hasten to make peace, if they will but hold out for as 
much as three months, the Germans will be driven 
forth with shame and ignominy. I should have to 
write you a long letter if I tried to give you a 
series of my personal observations — for example, 
of the way in which soldiers are sent to France, 
how they are recruited, equipped, housed and fed, 
transported. It is extraordinarily interesting. An 
unfortunate poverty-stricken woman, say, who lives 
by letting two furnished rooms (rooms are all " fur- 
nished " here ; she would have about twopence worth 
of furniture of her own) . . . such a woman is 
forced, because she "has her own furniture," to 
supply quarters and food for ten soldiers. The 
quartering lasts a day, or two, or three — at most a 
week. But the business costs her from twenty to 
thirty thalers. 

I have myself read letters fi-om German soldiers in 
France to their parents (small business-folk). Good 
God, the things they have to tell ! O, how ill they 
are, and how hungry 1 But it would take too long to 

JET. 49] 1870 IN DRESDEN 213 

relate. One more observation, though, I'll give you : 
at first, one often heard the people in the streets 
singing the "Wacht am Rhein": now, one never 
hears it at all. By far the greatest excitement and 
pride exists among the professors, doctors, and 
students ; the crowd are but little interested. In- 
deed, they are very quiet. But the professors are 
extraordinarily arrogant. I encounter them every 
evening in the public library. A very influential 
scholar with silver-white hair loudly exclaimed, the 
day before yesterday, " Paris must be bombarded I" 
So that's the outcome of all their learning. If not of 
their learning, then of their stupidity. They may be 
very scholarly, but they're frightfully limited 1 Yet 
another observation : all the populace here can read 
and write, but every one of them is terribly unintelli- 
gent, obtuse, stubborn, and devoid of any high ideals. 
But enough of this. Till we meet. I embrace you 
and thank you in anticipation. For God's sake don't 
forget me, and do write to me. 




To Apollon Nikolayevitch Maikov 

March 2 [14], 1871. 

[At first the topic is a pending transaction between 
Dostoevsky and the publisher Stellovsky.j 

I was delighted by your very flattering opinion of 
the beginning of my novel. My God, how I feared 
for that book, and how I still fear 1 By the time you 
read these lines, you will have seen the second half of 


the first part in the February number of the Boussky 
Viestnik. What do you say to it ? 1 am terribly 
anxious. I can't at all tell if I shall get on with the 
sequel. I am in despair. There are to be only four 
parts in all — that is, forty sheets. Stepan Trofimo- 
vitch^ is a figure of superficial importance ; the novel 
will not in any real sense deal with him ; but his 
story is so closely connected with the principal 
events of the book that I was obliged to take him as 
basis for the whole. This Stepan Trofimovitch will 
take his " benefit " in the fourth part ; his destiny 
is to have a most original climax. 1 won't answer 
for anything else, but for that I answer without 
limitations. And yet I must once more say: I 
tremble like a frightened mouse. The idea tempted 
me, and 1 got tremendously carried away by it ; but 
whether 1 shall bring it off, whether the whole novel 
isn't a [. . .^] — well, that's my great trouble. 

Only think : I have already had letters from 
several quarters congratulating me on the first part. 
This has enormously encouraged me. I tell you 
quite truthfully, vnth no idea of flattering you, that 
your judgment has more weight with me than any 
other. In the first place, I know that you are abso- 
lutely frank ; in the second, your letter contains an 
inspired saying : " They are Turgenev's heroes in 
their old age." That's admirably said ! As I wrote, 
some such idea hovered before me ; but you have 
expressed it in a word or two, in a formula, as it 
were. Aye — for those words I thank you ; you have 
illuminated the whole book thereby. The work goes 
very heavily forward ; I feel unwell, and soon now 

1 Verchovensky in " The Possessed." 
* Here is the letter D and four dots. 


returns the period of my frequent attacks. I am 
afraid I shall not be ready in time. But I do not 
mean to hurry. True, I have thoroughly constructed 
and thoroughly studied my plan ; nevertheless, if I 
hurry, I may spoil the w^hole thing. I have quite 
decided to return in the spring. 

[Henceforth he writes of the journals Besyeda and 


To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov 


April 'ZS [May 5], 1871. 

[In the first half of the letter Dostoevsky advises 
Strachov on no account to abandon his critical 

As a consequence of the colossal revolutions which 
are taking place in politics as well as in the narrower 
literary sphere, we behold general culture and ca- 
pacity for critical judgment momentarily shattered 
and undone. People have taken it into their heads 
that they have no time for literature (as if literature , 
were a pastime — fine culture, that !) ; in consequence 
of which the level of literary taste is so terribly low 
that no critic of to-day, however remarkable he may 
be, can have his proper influence on the public. 
Dobrolyubov's and Pissarev's successes really derive 
from their having totally ignored any such thing 
as literature, that sole domain of intellectual and 
spiritual vitality here below. But one must not reckon 
with such phenomena ; one is bound to continue 


one's critical work. Forgive my offering you advice : 
but that is how I should act, were I in your place. 

In one of your brochures there was a wonderful 
piece of observation which nobody before you has 
made, namely, that every writer of any significance, 
any authentic talent, has finally yielded to national 
sentiment and become a Slavophil. Thus, for 
example, the facile Pushkin created, long before any 
of the Slavophils, that figure of the Chronicler in 
the monastery at Tchudov ^ — that is to say, he 
grasped, far better than all the Kireyevskys, Chom- 
yakovs, etc., the inmost essence of Slavophilism. 
And then, look at Herzen : what a longing, what a 
need, to strike into the true path ! Only because of 
his personal weaknesses did he fail to do it. Nor is 
that all : this law of the conversion to nationality is 
not only to be observed in writers and poets, but in 
all other directions. So that one can in the end set 
up yet another law : if any man has genuine talent, 
he will have also that impulse to return to the people 
from the crumbling upper regions of society ; but if 
he has no talent, he wiU not only remain in those 
crumbling regions, but even exile himself to foreign 
lands, or turn to Catholicism, or what not. 

Bielinsky, whom you even to-day admire, was, as 
regards talent, feeble and impotent ; therefore he con- 
demned Russia and, in full consciousness of what he 
was doing, reviled his native land (people wiU have 
much to say of Bielinsky in the future, and then 
you'll see). But I want only to say one thing more : 
that idea which you have expressed is enormously 
important, and demands further and more speciahzed 

' A scene in Pushkin's drama of " Boris Godounov." 


Your letters give me great delight. But about 
your last opinion on my novel I want to say this to 
you : first, you praise far too highly those excellencies 
which you find therein ; second, you point with 
admirable acumen to its principal fault. Yes, that 
was and ever is my greatest torment— I never can 
control my material. Whenever I write a novel, I 
crowd it up with a lot of separate stories and epi- 
sodes ; therefore the whole lacks proportion and 
harmony. You have seen this astonishingly well ; 
how frightfully have I always suffered from it, for I 
have always been aware that it was so. And I have 
made another great mistake besides : without calcu- 
lating my powers, I have allowed myself to be trans- 
ported by poetic enthusiasm, and have undertaken an 
idea to which my strength was not equal. (N. B. The 
force of poetic enthusiasm is, to be sure, as for example 
with Victor Hugo, always stronger than the artistic 
force. Even in Pushkin one detects this dispro- 
portion.) But / destroy myself thereby. 

I must further add that the move to Russia and 
the many anxieties which await me in the summer, 
will immensely injure the novel. Anyhow, I thank 
you for your sympathy. What a pity it is that we 
shall not see one another for so long. In the mean- 

I am your most devoted 

Fyodor Dostoevsky, 



To Nikolay Nikolayevitch Strachov 

May 18 [30], 1871. 

Much-esteemed Nikolay Nikolayevitch, 

So you really Jiave begun your letter with 
Bielinsky, as I foresaw. But do reflect on Paris and 
the Commune. Will you perchance maintain, as 
others do, that the whole thing failed simply because 
of the lack of men, and as a result of unfavourable 
circumstances? Through the whole of this 19th 
century, that school has dreamed of the setting-up of 
earthly paradises (for instance, the phalansteries), and 
then, directly it came to action (as in the years 1848, 
1849, and now), has shown a contemptible incapacity 
for any practical expression of itself. At bottom, the 
entire movement is but a repetition of the Russian 
delusion that men can reconstruct the world by reason 
and experience ( Positivism). But we have seen enough 
of it by now to be entitled to declare that such im- 
potence as is displayed can be no chance phenomenon. 
Why do they cut off heads ? Simply because it's the 
easiest of all things to do. To say something sensible 
is far more difficult. Effort is, after all, a lesser 
thing than attainment. They desire the common 
good, but when it comes to defining "good," can 
only reiterate Rousseau's aphorism — that "good" is 
a fantasy never yet ratified by experience. The 
burning of Paris is something utterly monstrous: 
"Since we have failed, let the whole world perish 1" 
— for the Commune is more important than the world's 
weal, and France's ! Yet they (and many others) see 


in that madness not monstrosity, but only beauty. 
Since that is so, the aesthetic idea must be completely 
clouded over in the modern mind. A moral basis 
(taken from Positivist teachings) for society is not 
only incapable of producing any results whatever, but 
can't possibly even define itself to itself, and so must 
always lose its way amid aspirations and ideals. 
Have we not sufficient evidence by this time to be 
able to prove that a society is not thus to be built up, 
that quite otherwhere lie the paths to the common 
good, and that this common good reposes on things 
different altogether from those hitherto accepted ? 
On what, then, does it repose ? Men write and write, 
and overlook the principal point. In Western Europe 
the peoples have lost Christ (Catholicism is to blame), 
and therefore Western Europe is tottering to its fall. 
Ideas have changed — how evidently! And the fall 
of the Papal power, together with that of the whole 
Romano-German world (France, etc.) — what a co- 
incidence ! 

All this would take long wholly to express, but 
what I really want to say to you is : If Bielinsky, 
Granovsky, and all the rest of the gang, had lived to 
see this day, they would have said : " No, it was not 
to this that we aspired I No, this is a mistake ; we 
must wait a while, the light will shine forth, progress 
will win, humanity will build on new and healthier 
foundations, and be happy at last!" They would 
never admit that their way can lead at best but to the 
Commune or to Felix Pyat. That crew was so obtuse 
that even now, after the event, they would not be 
able to see their error, they would persist in their 
fantastic dreaming. I condemn Bielinsky less as a 
personality than as a most repulsive, stupid, and 


humiliating phenomenon of Russian life. The best 
one can say for it is that it's inevitable. I assure you 
that Bielinsky would have been moved, to-day, to 
take the following attitude : " The Commime has 
accomplished nothing, because before all things it was 
French — that is to say, was steeped in nationalism. 
Therefore we must now seek out another people, 
which will not have the tiniest spark of national 
feeling, but will be ready, like me, to box its mother's 
(Russia's) ears." Wrathfully he would continue to 
foam forth his wretched articles ; he would go on 
reviling Russia, denying Russia's greatest phenomena 
(such as Pushkin), so that he might thus make Russia 
seem to turn into an empty nation, which might take 
the lead in universal human activities. The Jesuitry 
and insincerity of our prominent public men, he would 
regard as great good fortune. And then, for another 
thing : you never knew him ; but I had personal 
intercourse with him, and now can give his full 
measure. The man, talking with me once, reviled 
the Saviour, and yet surely he could never have 
undertaken to compare himself and the rest of the 
gentry who move the world, with Christ. He was 
not capable of seeing how petty, angry, impatient, 
base, and before all else covetous and vain, they, 
every one of them, are. He never asked himself the 
question : " But what can we put in His place ? Of 
a surety not ourselves, so evil as we are ?" No ; he 
never reflected in any sort of way upon the possibility 
that he might be evil ; he was to the last degree 
content with himself, and in that alone is expressed 
his personal, petty, pitiable stupidity. 

You declare that he was gifted. He was not, in 
any way. My God, what nonsense Grigoryev did 


write about him ! I can still remember my youthful 
amazement when I read some of his purely Eesthetic 
efforts (as, for instance, on " Dead Souls ") ; he treated 
Gogol's characters with incredible superficiality and 
lack of comprehension, and merely rejoiced insanely 
that Gogol had accused somebody. In the four years 
of my sojourn here abroad, 1 have re-read all his 
critical writings. He reviled Pushkin, when Pushkin 
dropped his false note, and produced such works as 
the "Tales of Bielkin," and "The Negro of Peter 
the Great." He pronounced the " Tales of Bielkin " 
to be entirely valueless. In Gogol's " Carriage," he 
perceived not an artistic creation, but a mere comic 
tale. He wholly abjured the conclusion of " Eugene 
Onegin." He was the first to speak of Pushkin as a 
courtier. He said that Turgenev would never make 
an artist ; and he said that after he had read Tur- 
genev's very remarkable tale of " The Three Portraits." 
I could give you, on the spur of the moment, count- 
less proofs that he had not an atom of critical sense, 
nor that " quivering sensibility " of which Grigoryev 
babbled (simply because he too was a poet). 

We regard Bielinsky and many another of our 
contemporaries through the still enduring glamour of 
fantastic judgments. 

Did I really write you nothing about your article 
on Turgenev ? I read it, as I read all your writings, 
with great delight, but at the same time with some 
degree of vexation. Once you had admitted that 
Turgenev has lost grasp, that he has no idea what to 
say about certain manifestations of Russian life (he 
jeers at them, every one), you were bound to admit 
as well that his artistic powers are at ebb in his recent 
work — for it could not be otherwise. But on the 


contrary you hold that his recent work is on the 
same level with his earlier. Can both statements be 
accepted ? Possibly I am myself mistaken (not in 
my judgment of Turgenev, but in my interpretation 
of your article). Perhaps you have merely expressed 
yourself confusedly. . . . Know this: all that school 
is no more than "Landed-proprietor's Literature." 
And that kind of literature has said all it had to say 
(particularly well in the case of Leo Tolstoy). It has 
spoken its last word, and is exempt from further 
duty. A new school that may take its place is still 
to come ; we have not had time to produce it. The 
Reschetnikovs^ have said nothing. Nevertheless, the 
works of a Reschetnikov demonstrate the necessity 
for a new note in literature, which shall replace that 
of the landed proprietors — however repellently such a 
writer expresses himself. 

[He then speaks of his return to Petersburg and of 
the Sarya.'] 

N.B. Dostoevsky did return to Petersburg on 
July 8, 1871. 


To Mme. Ch. D. Altschevsky. 


Apnl9, 1876. 

You write that I am squandering and abusing my 
talents on bagatelles in the Diary. You are not the 
first from whom I have heard that. And now I want 

' Reschetnikov, a novelist " with a purpose " of the 'sixties, one 
of the foremost pioneers of the free-thinking " Narodniki " school, 
which advocates absorption into the people. 


^T. 54^] HE DEFENDS HIS « DIARY " 223 

to say this to you and others : I have been driven to 
the conviction that an artist is bound to make himself 
acquainted, down to the smallest detail, not only with 
the technique of writing, but with everything — cur- 
rent no less than historical events — relating to that 
reality which he designs to show forth. We have 
only one writer who is really remarkable in that 
respect: it is Count Leo Tolstoy. Victor Hugo, 
whom I extraordinarily admire as a novelist (only 
think : Tchutchev, who is now dead, once got 
positively angry with me on account of this view of 
Hugo, and said that my " Raskolnikov " was much 
greater than Hugo's "Miserables") — is certainly prone 
to be too long-winded in his description of details, 
but he gives us most marvellous effects of observa- 
tion, which would have been lost to the world but for 
him. As I am now purposing to write a very big 
novel, I must devote myself most especially to the 
study of actuality : I don't mean actuality in the literal 
sense, for I am fairly well versed in that, but certain 
pecuUarities of the present moment. And in this 
present moment the younger generation particularly 
interests me, and, as akin to it, the question of 
Russian family-life, which, to my thinking, is to-day 
quite a different thing from what it was twenty years 
ago. Also many other questions of the moment 
interest me. 

At fifty-three,^ I might easily, were I to slacken at 
all in this respect, fail to keep pace with the growing 
generation. Lately I had a chance encounter with 
Gontscharov, and I asked him whether all the 
phenomena of the present moment were comprehen- 

* Discrepancy as to his age here, but so both in German and 
French texts. 


sible to him ; he answered quite frankly that there 
was much he could not understand at all. (N.B. This 
between ourselves.) Of course, I know that Gonts- 
charov, with his remarkable intelligence, not only 
understands it all, but is competent to instruct the 
instructors of the day ; but in the peculiar sense in 
which I put the question (and which he at once 
understood) he does not even desire to grasp these 
phenomena. " My ideals, and all that I have prized 
in life, are far too dear to me," he added ; " and for 
the few years that I have yet to live, I mean to abide 
by them ; it would go too hard with me to study 
these gentry" (he pointed to the crowd that was 
flowing past us) " for I should be obliged to use up in 
so doing the time which is so precious to me. ..." 
1 don't know if you'll understand me, revered Chris- 
tina Danilovna : I greatly desire to write something 
more, and to do so with complete knowledge of my 
subject ; for that reason I shall study a while longer 
and put down my impressions in the Diary of a 
Writer, so that nothing may be wasted. Of course 
it's merely an ideal to which I aspire ! You won't 
believe me at all, I daresay, when I declare that I 
haven't yet discovered the right form for the Diary, 
and don't know in the least if I shall ever really 
succeed in discovering it ; the Diary might per- 
fectly well run for two years longer, and yet be a 
complete failure as a piece of work. For example, 
imagine this : when I set to work, I always have 
from ten to fifteen themes available ; but those 
themes which strike me as particularly interesting, I 
always save up for another time ; if I make use of 
them at once, they take up too much of my space, 
they demand my whole energy (as, for example, in 

^T. 54] GIRL-STUDENTS 225 

the case of Kroneberg^), and the number turns out a 
bad one — and so forth. Therefore I write of things 
that are not at all so near to me. 

On the other hand, the idea of making it a genuine 
Diary was really naive in me. A genuine Diary is 
almost impossible ; it can only be a work cut about 
to suit the public taste. Every minute I come upon 
facts, receive impressions, that often carry me away 
— but there are some things about which one can't 
possibly write. . . . 

The day before yesterday, early, there come to me 
quite unexpectedly two young girls, both about 
twenty years old. They come and say : " We have 
long wanted to make your acquaintance. Everyone 
laughed at us, and declared that you would not 
receive us, and that even if you did, you would not 
care to talk with us. But we determined to make 
the attempt, and so here we are. Our names are so- 
and-so." They were first received by my wife, I 
came out later. 

They told me that they were students at the 
Academy of Medicine, that there were at that 
Academy as many as five hundred women-students, 
and that they had entered there " to obtain higher 
education, so as later to be able to do useful work." 
I had never before seen girls of that sort (of the 
earlier Nihilists I know a number, and have studied 
them thoroughly). Believe me, I have seldom passed 
my time so agreeably as in the company of those two 
girls, who remained with me a couple of hours. Such 
wonderful spontaneity, such freshness of feeling, such 

^ Diary of a Writer, February, 1876; a sensational lawsuit 
against a certain Kroneberg, who had long inhumanly treated his 
seven-year-old daughter. 



purity of heart and mind, such grave sincerity, and 
such sincere mirth ! Through them I came, later, to 
know many such girls, and must confess that the 
impression they made on me was powerful and 
pleasant. But how am I to describe all that? 
Despite my sincerity, and the delight with which I 
regard these young people, I cannot possibly do it. 
The impression was of almost too personal a nature. 
But then, what impressions am I to put down in 
my Diary 1 

Or another instance : yesterday I heard the follow- 
ing story. A young man, a student at an institution 
which I do not wish to name (I happened to make 
his acquaintance), is visiting friends, goes accidentally 
into the tutor's room, and sees & forbidden book lying 
on the table ; he instantly tells the master of the 
house, and the tutor is instantly dismissed. When, 
in another household, someone told'7this young man 
that he had been guilty of a ha^e action, he could not 
in the least see it. There you have the reverse of the 
medal. But how am I to write about that ? The 
thing is in one way of a purely personal nature ; and 
yet the processes of reflection, and the temper, of that 
young man who carmot at all perceive the baseness of 
his action, about which I should have much of interest 
to say, are typical wholly, and not personal at aU. 

But I have written too much about all this. The 
truth is, I find it terribly difficult to write letters ; I 
have no talent for it. Forgive me, also, for the bad 
handwriting ; I have a headache, it is la grippe — my 
eyes have been paining me all day, and I write this 
almost without seeing my characters. 

MT. 54] SAYING « A LAST WORD " 227 


To Vsevolod Solovyov^ p. 

' July, 1876. 

On my departure I left several quite personal and 
even pressing affairs unattended to. But here, at this 
tedious spa, your letter has literally rejfreshed me and 
gone straight to my heart; I was already feeling 
much troubled— I don't myself know why it should 
be so, but every time I come to Ems, I undergo 
a mood of tormenting, wholly groundless, more or 
less hypochondriacal, depression. Whether it arises 
from my isolation in the crowd of 8,000 " patients," 
or from the climate of this place, I can't decide ; but 
I am always in a worse state here than almost any- 
body else is. You write that you must speak with 
me, and how dearly I should like to see you I 

The June number of the Diary pleased you, then. 
I am glad of that, and for a special reason. I had 
never yet permitted myself to follow my profoundest 
convictions to their ultimate consequences in my 
public writing — had never said my very last word. 
A very intelligent correspondent in the provinces 
once, indeed, reproached me for opening up so many 
important questions in my Diary, yet never thoroughly 
discussing them ; he encouraged me, and urged me 
to be more daring. So I decided that I would for 
once say the last word on one of my convictions — 
that of Russia's part and destiny among the nations 
— and I proclaimed that my various anticipations 
would not only be fulfilled in the immediate future, 
but were already partly realized. 

' Vsevolod Solovyov, author of some popular historical novels ; 
brother of Vladimir Solovyov, the philosopher. 


And then there happened precisely what I had 
expected : even those newspapers and magazines 
which are friendly to me raised an outcry, saying that 
my whole article was hopelessly paradoxical ; while 
the others bestowed not the smallest attention on it— 
and here am I, who believe that I have opened up 
the most important of all questions ! That's what 
happens when one attempts to carry an idea to its 
issue ! One may set up any paradox one likes, and 
so long as one doesn't carry it to its ultimate con- 
clusion, everyone will think it most subtle, witty, 
comme il faut ; but once blurt out the last word, and 
quite frankly (not by implication) declare : " This is 
the Messiah !" why, nobody will believe in you any 
more — for it was so silly of you to push your idea to 
its ultimate conclusion ! If many a famous wit, such 
as Voltaire, had resolved for once to rout all hints, 
allusions, and esotericisms by force of his genuine 
beliefs, to show the real Himself, he would quite 
certainly not have had a tithe of the success he 
enjoyed. He would merely have been laughed at. 
For man instinctively avoids saying his last word ; he 
has a prejudice against "thoughts said." 

" Once said, the thought turns lie !" * 

Now you can judge for yourself how precious to 
me are your friendly expressions about the June 
number. For you have understood my words and 
taken them exactly as I thought them myself. I 
thank you for that ; for I was already a little dis- 
illusioned, and was reproving myself for my pre- 
cipitancy. If there are but a few members of the 
public who understand me as you do, I have done 
what I aimed at doing, and am content — my words 

1 From a poem by Tchutchev. 


have not been in vain. . . . But the rest at once 
proclaimed vs^ith cries of joy : " He is so frightfully 
paradoxical 1" And the folk who say it are precisely 
those who never had an idea of their own in their 
lives. . . . 

I remain here till August 7 (Old Style). I am 
drinking the waters, and indeed would never be able 
to make up my mind to endure this place were I not 
convinced that the cure is really good for me. It's 
certainly not worth while to describe Ems ! I have 
promised the public to bring out a double number of 
the Diary in August ; as yet I haven't written a 
single line ; from sheer boredom I've got so apathetic 
. that I regard the work before me with reluctance, as if 
it were an imminent misfortune. I already feel that 
the number will be very bad. At any rate, write to 
me again whUe I'm here, my dearest fellow. . . . 


I To Mile. Gerassimov 



March 7, 1877. 

Much-honoured Mlle. Gerassimov ! 

Your letter has tormented me terribly, because 
1 could not answer it for so long. What can you 
have thought of me ? In your dejected state, you vsdU 
perhaps have taken my silence as an affront. 

You must know that I am almost overwhelmed 
with work. Besides the work for the periodically 
appearing Diary, I have to get through a quantity 
of letters. I receive daily several letters of the same 
kind as yours, which cannot possibly be disposed of 
in a few lines. Moreover, 1 have lately suffered from 


three attacks of epilepsy, and those of such violence 
and quick recurrence as I have not had for years. 
After each attack, I was bodily and mentally so 
/ shattered that for two and three days I could not 
work or write, or even read. Now you know that, 
you will forgive my long silence. 

I did not think your letter by any means childish or 
stupid, as you assume. For that mood is now general, 
and there are many young girls suffering like you. 
But I don't mean to write much on that theme; I 
shall only lay before you my fundamental ideas upon 
the subject, both in general, and as it concerns you 
personally. If I advise you to settle down, to stay in 
your parents' house, and take up some intelligent 
occupation (corresponding to the course of your 
education), you won't be much inclined to listen to 
me. But why are you in such a hurry, why should 
you so dread any delay ? You want to do something 
useful as soon as possible. And yet, with your ardour 
(1 am taking it for granted that it is genuine), you 
could — if you don't act precipitately, but pursue your 
education a little longer — prepare yourself for activities 
which would be a hundred times more useful than the 
obscure and insignificant r61e of a sick-nurse, midwife, 
or woman-doctor. You urgently desire to enter the 
Medical High School for Women here. 1 should like 
to advise you decidedly not to do so. You will get 
no education there, but quite the contrary. And 
what do you gain, if you actually do become a mid- 
wife or woman-doctor ? Such a calling — if you really 
do expect so much from it— you could quite well 
take up later on ; but would it not be better now if 
you pursued other ends, and took pains with your 
general education ? Do but look at all our specialists 

^T. 55] EDUCATION 231 

(even the University professors); vi^hy are they all 
losing ground, and whence comes the harm that they 
do (instead of doing good) to their own profession ? 
It is simply because the majority of our speciaUsts 
are shockingly ill-educated people. In other lands it 
is quite different : there we find a Humboldt or a 
Claude Bernard, persons with large ideas, great 
culture and knowledge outside of their special job. 
But with us, even highly-gifted people are incredibly 
uneducated ; for example, Syetchenov,^ who at 
bottom is uneducated and knows nothing beyond his 
narrow special subject ; of his scientific adversaries 
(the philosophers) he has no notion whatever; there- 
fore his scientific efforts are more harmful than 
useful. And the majority of our students — men and 
women — have no true education. How then can they 
be useful to humanity ! They study only just enough 
to get paid appointments as soon as may be. . . . 

To A. P. N. 

May 19, 1877. 

Will you be so very gobd as to excuse my not 
having answered you for so long ? Not until to-day 
have I been able to leave Petersburg for a while ; I 
have been terribly busy, and my illness added to my 
troubles. But what am I to write to you now ? 
You are intelligent enough to perceive that the ques- 
tions you put to me are abstract and nebulous ; be- 
sides, I have no personal knowledge whatever of you. 
I too strove for sixteen years with doubts similar to 
yours ; but somehow or other I was certain that 
1 A renowned Russian physiologist. 


sooner or later I should succeed in finding my true 
path, and therefore did not torment myself overmuch. 
It was more or less unimportant to me what position 
I might come to occupy in literature ; in my soul was 
a certain flame, and in that I believed, troubling my- 
self not at all as to what should come of it. There 
are my experiences, since you ask me for them. 

How should I know your heart ? If you will hear 
my counsel, I advise you to trust without hesitation 
to your own inward impulse ; perhaps destiny may 
point you to a literary career. Your claims are in- 
deed most modest, for you ask no more than to be a 
worker of the second rank. I should like to add 
this : my own youthful impulse hindered me in no 
wise from taking a practical grasp of life ; it is true I 
was a writer, not an engineer ; nevertheless, during 
my whole course at the College of Engineering, from 
the lowest to the highest class, I was one of the best 
students ; later I took a post for a while, although I 
knew that sooner or later I should abandon that 
career. But I saw nothing in the career itself which 
could thwart that to which I aspired ; I was even 
more convinced than before that the future belongedv 
to me, and that I alone should control it. In the 
same way, if an official position does not hinder you 
in the pursuit of your literary vocation, why should 
you not temporarily undertake such an one ? 

Naturally I write all this at random, since I do not 
know you personally ; but I want to be of service to 
you, and so answer your letter as frankly as possible. 
As to all the rest, it is, in great part, exaggeration. 

Permit me to press your hand. 


Fyodor Dostoevski. 

JE.'t.SG'] THE BIBLE 233 


2'o N. L. Osmidov 


February, 1878. 


Let me beg you, first, to forgive my having, 
by reason of illness and various bothers, taken so long 
to answer you. In the second place, what can I say 
in reply to your momentous question, which belongs 
to the eternal problem of humanity ? Can one treat 
such matters in the narrow compass of a letter ? If 
I could talk with you for some hours, it would be a 
different thing ; and even then I might well fail to 
achieve anything. Least of all by words and argu- 
ment does one convert an unbeliever. Would it not 
be better if you would read, with your best possible 
attention, all the epistles of St. Paul ? Therein much 
is said of faith, and the question could not be better 
handled. I recommend you to read the whole Bible | 
through in the Russian translation. The book makes 
a remarkable impression when one thus reads it. One 
gains, for one thing, the conviction that humanity 
possesses, and can possess, no other book of equal 
significance. Quite apart from the question of 
whether you believe or don't believe. I can't give 
you any sort of idea. But I'll say just this : Every 
single organism exists on earth but to live — not to 
annihilate itself. Science has made this clear, and 
has laid down very precise laws upon which to ground 
the axiom. Humanity as a whole is, of course, no 
less than an organism. And that organism has, 
naturally, its own conditions of existence, its own 


laws. Human reason comprehends those laws. Now 
suppose that there is no God, and no personal immor- 
tality (personal immortality and God are one and the 
same — an identical idea). Tell me then : Why am I 
to live decently and do good, if I die irrevocably here 
below ? If there is no immortality, 1 need but live 
out my appointed day, and let the rest go hang. 
And if that's really so (and if I am clever enough not 
to let myself be caught by the standing laws)» why 
should I not kOl, rob, steal, or at any rate live at the 
expense of others ? For I shall die, and all the rest 
will die and utterly vanish I By this road, one would 
reach the conclusion that the human organism alofl^; 
is not subject to the universal law, that it lives but to 
destroy itself — not to keep itself alive. For what sort 
of society is one whose members are mutually 
hostile ? Only utter confusion can come of such U' 
thing as that. And then reflect on the " I " which 
can grasp all this. If the " I " can grasp the idea # - 
the universe and its laws, then that " I " stan(^ 
above all other things, stands aside from all other 
things, judges them, fathoms them. In that case, 
the " I " is not only liberated from the earthly 
axioms, the earthly laws, but has its own law, which 
transcends the earthly. Now, whence comes that 
law ? Certainly not from earth, where all reaches its 
issue, and vanishes beyond recall. Is that no indica* 
tion of personal immortality? If there were no 
personal immortality, would you, Nikolay LukitA^ 
be worrying yourself about it, be searching for an 
answer, be writing letters like this ? So you can't get 
rid of your " I," you see ; your " I " will not subject 
itself to earthly conditions, but seeks for something 
which transcends earth, and to which it feels 



itself akin. But whatever I write falls short 
altogether — as it must. 1 cordially press your hand, 
and take my leave. Remain in your unrest— seek 
farther— it may be that you shall find. 

Your servant and true friend, 



To a Mother 


March 27, 1878. 

Your letter of February 2nd I am answering 
only to-day, after a month's delay. I was ill and 
very much occupied, and so beg you not to take 
amiss this dilatoriness. 

You set me problems which one could treat only 
in long essays, and assuredly not in a letter. More- 
over, hfe itself can alone give any answer to such 
questions. If I were to write you ten sheets, some 
misunderstanding, which would easily be cleared up 
in a verbal interview, might cause you to take me up 
quite wrongly, and therefore to abjure my whole ten 
sheets. Can one, in general, when wholly unac- 
quainted, and especially in a letter, treat of such 
matters at all ? I consider it quite impossible, and 
believe that it may do more harm than good. 

From your letter I gather that you are a good 
mother, and are very anxious about your growing 
child. I cannot, though, at all imagine of what 
service to you would prove the solution of the 
questions with which you have turned to me: you 
set yourself too hard a task, and your perplexities are 
exaggerated and morbid. You should take things 


much more simply. You ask me, for instance, " What 
is good, and what is not good ?" To what do such 
questions lead ? They concern you alone, and have 
nothing whatever to do with the bringing-up of your 
child. Every human being, who can grasp the truth 
at all, feels in his conscience what is good and what 
is evil. Be good, and let your child realize that you 
are good ; in that way you will wholly fulfil your 
duty towards your child, for you will thus give him 
the immediate conviction that people ought to be 
good. Believe me, it is so. Your child will then 
cherish your memory all his life vsdth great reverence, 
it may be often with deep emotion as well. And even if 
you do something wrong — that is, something frivolous, 
morbid, or even absurd — your child vdU sooner or 
later forget all about it, and remember only the good 
things. Mark me : in general, you can do no more 
than this for your child. And it is really more than 
enough. The memory of our parents' good qualities 
— of their love of truth, their rectitude, their goodness 
of heart, of their freedom from false shame and their 
constant reluctance to deceive — all this will sooner or 
later make a new creature of your child : believe me. 
And do not think that this is a small thing. When 
we graft a tiny twig on a great tree, we alter all the 
fruits of the tree thereby. 

Your child is now eight years old; make him 
acquainted with the Gospel, teach him to believe in 
God, and that in the most orthodox fashion. This is a 
sine qua non; otherwise you can't make a fine human 
being out of your child, but at best a sufferer, and at 
worst — a careless lethargic " success," which is a still 
more deplorable fate. You will never find anything 
better than the Saviour anywhere, believe me. 


Suppose now that your child at sixteen or seventeen 
(after some intercourse with corrupted school-friends) 
comes to you or to its father, and puts this question : 
" Why am I to love you, and why do you represent 
it as my duty ?" Believe me : no sort of " questions" 
or knowledge will help you then ; you won't be able 
to give any answer. Therefore it is that you must 
try to act so that it will never once occur to your child 
to come to you with that question. But that wiU be 
possible only if your child is attached to you by such 
love as would prevent such a question from ever 
coming into its head ; true, that at school such views 
may be for a while your child's, but you will find it 
easy to separate the false from the true ; and even if 
you should really have to hsten to that question, you 
wiU be able to answer with just a smile, and quietly 
go on doing well. 

If you grow superfluously and exaggeratedly 
anxious about your children, you may easily affect 
their nerves and become a nuisance to them ; and 
that might happen even though your mutual love 
were great ; therefore you must be careful and 
cultivate moderation in all things. It seems to me 
that in this respect you have no sense at all of 
moderation. In your letter, for example, occurs the 
following sentence : " If I live for them (that is, my 
husband and children), it is an egotistic life ; dare I 
live thus egotistically, when all round me are so 
many people who need my help ?" What an idle 
and unprofitable thought ! What hinders you from 
living for others, and yet remaining a good wife and 
mother ? On the contrary : if you live for others 
also and share with them your earthly goods and the 
emotions of your heart, you set your children a 


radiant example, and your husband will necessarily 
love you still better than before. But since such 
questions come into your head at all, I must assume 
that you consider it to be your duty so to cleave to 
your husband and your children that thereby you 
forget all the rest of the world — that is to say, with- 
out any moderation. In that way you could but 
become a burden to your chUd, even if it loved you. 
It may easily befall that your sphere of activity will 
suddenly seem to you too narrow, and that you will 
aspire to a wider one, perhaps a world-wide one. 
But has anyone at all any right to aspire to that ? 

Believe me : it is uncommonly important and 
useful to set a good example even in a narrow sphere 
of activity, for in that way one influences dozens and 
hundreds of people. Your purpose, never to he but 
to live in truth, will make those who surround you 
think, thus influencing them. That in itseK is a great 
deed. In such ways you can do an enormous 
amount. It were truly senseless to throw all aside, 
and rush with such questions to Petersburg, meaning 
thereafter to enter the Academy of Medicine or the 
High School for Women. I meet here daily such 
women and ^rls ; what frightful narrowness I see in 
them ! And all who once were good for something 
are ruined here. Seeing no serious activity in their 
environment, they begin to love humanity theoretic- 
ally, by the book as it were ; they love humanity, and 
scorn the individual unfortunate, are bored in his 
company, and therefore avoid him. 

I really don't know how I am to answer your 
questions, for I don't understand these matters at all. 
When a child betrays an evil character, it is of course 
attributable to the evil tendencies which are inborn in 


him (it is beyond doubt that every human being is 
born with evil tendencies), as well as to those who 
have his bringing-up in hand, and are either incapable 
or lazy, so that they neither suppress those tendencies 
nor (by their own example) lead them into other 
directions. Of the usefulness of that work I really 
need not speak. If you inculcate good propensities 
in your child, the work will bring its own delight. 
Now enough : I have written you a lot, and have 
tired myself, yet have really said little ; but you will 
no doubt understand me. 
With all respect, your most obedient servant, 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

P.S. Peter the Great, with his revenue of one 
and a half millions, might well have led an easy 
lethargic existence at the Tsar's Palace in Moscow ; 
and yet he worked hard all his life. He always 
wondered at those who do not work. 


To a Group of Moscow Students^ 


April 18, ]878. 

Forgive my not having answered you for so 
long; I was definitely ill, and other circumstances 
besides delayed my answer. I wished, originally, to 
reply to you through the newspapers ; but it appeared 
that, for reasons against which I am powerless, this 

^ On April 3, 1878, students demonstrating against the arrest 
of some colleagues at Kiev, were assaulted and beaten in the public 
streets by the butchers (the Moscow meat-market is near the 
University). A group of the students appealed to Dostoevsky in a 
letter of protest. 


was not feasible ; and, anyhow, I could not have 
treated your questions with the necessary circumstan- 
tiality in the press. But indeed, what can I say to 
you in any kind of a letter ? Your questions touch 
upon the wJwle interior life of Russia : do you want 
me to write you a book ? Am I to make you my 
full confession of faith ? 

Well, finally I have decided to write you this 
short letter, wherein I risk being completely mis- 
understood by you — a result which would be most 
painful to me. 

You write : "It is of paramount importance that 
we should solve the problem of how far we are to 
blame in the affair, and what conclusions society, no 
less than we ourselves, should draw from these inci- 
dents ?" 

You go on to indicate very adroitly and precisely 
the true significance of the relations between the 
contemporary Russian press and the younger genera- 
tion at the Universities. 

In our press there prevails (with regard to you) " a 
tone of condescension and indulgence." That is very 
true ; the tone is indeed condescending, and fashioned 
in advance upon a certain pattern, no matter what 
the case ; in short, it is to the last degree insipid and 

You write further : " Plainly we have nothing 
more to expect from these people, who for their part 
expect nothing more from us, and so turn away, 
having pronounced their annihilating judgment of us 
as ' savages.' " 

That also is true : they do indeed turn away from 
you, and dismiss you, for the most part, from their 
thoughts (at any rate, the overwhelming majority do 


so). But there are men, and those not few in 
number both on the press and in society, who are 
horribly perturbed by the thought that the younger 
generation has broken with the people (this, first in 
importance) and with society. For such is actually 
the case. The younger generation lives in dreams, 
follows foreign teaching, cares to know nothing that 
concerns Russia, aspires, rather, to instruct the 
fatherland. Consequently it is to-day beyond all 
doubt that our younger generation is become the 
prey of one or other of those political parties which 
influence it wholly from outside, which care not at 
all for its interests, but use it simply as a contribution 
— as it were lambs for the slaughter — to their own 
particular ends. Do not contradict me, gentlemen, 
for it is so. 

You ask me, gentlemen : " How far are we students 
to blame for the incidents ?" Here is my answer : I 
hold that you are in no wise to blame. For you are 
but children of the very society from which you now 
turn away, as from " an utter fraud." But when one 
of our students thus abjures society, he does not go 
to the people, but to a nebulous " abroad " ; he flees 
to Europeanism, to the abstract realm of fantastic 
" Universal Man," thus severing all the bonds which 
stiU connect him with the people : he scorns the 
people and misjudges them, like a true child of that 
society with which hp hkewise has broken. And 
yet — with the people Hes our whole salvation (but 
this is a big subject). . . . Nevertheless, the younger 
generation should not be too harshly blamed for this 
rupture with the people. What earthly opportunity 
has it had, before entering on practical life, to form 
any ideas whatever about the people I The worst of 



it is, though, that the people has already perceived 
that the younger Russian intelligences have brok?:5i 
with it ; and still worse again is the fact that those 
young men whom it has marked down, are by it 
designated as " students." The people have long, so 
long as from the begiiming of the 'sixties, been watch- 
ful of these young men ; all those among them who 
"went to the people" have been abhorred by the 
people. The people caU them " these young gentle- 
men." I know for certain that they are so calledrAs 
a matter of fact, the people also are wrong, for there 
has never yet been a period in our Russian life when 
the young men (as if with a foreboding that Russia 
has reached a certain critical point, and is on the 
edge of an abyss) were, in the overwhelming majority 
of cases, so honest, so avid. for the truth, so joyfully 
willing to devote their lives to truth, and every word 
that truth can speak, as they are now. In ye is 
veritably the great hope of Russia !/ I have long felt 
it, and have already long been vsTiting in that sense. 
But what has come of it now, all at once ? Youth is 
seeking that truth of which it is so avid — God knows 
where 1 At the most widely diverse sources (another 
point in which it resembles the utterly decadent 
Russo-European society which has produced it) ; but 
never in the people, never in its native soil. The 
consequence is that, at the given decisive moment, 
neither society nor the younger generation knows the 
people. Instead of living the hfe of the people, these 
young men, who understand the people in no wise, 
and profoundly scorn its every fundamental principle 
— for example, its religion — go to the people not to 
learn to know it, but condescendingly to instruct and 
patronize it : a thoroughly aristocratic game 1 The 

ET. 55] " YOUNG GENTLEMEN " 243 

people call them " young gentlemen," and rightly. 
[t is really very strange ; all over the world, the 
iemocrats have ever been on the side of the people ; 
with us alone have the democratic intellectuals 
leagued themselves with the aristocrats against the 
people ; they go among the people " to do it good," 
while scorning all its customs and ideals. Such scorn 
cannot possibly lead to love ! 

Last winter, at your demonstration before the 
Kazan Cathedral,^ the rank and file forced their way 
into the church, smoked cigarettes, desecrated the 
temple, and made a scandal. " Now listen to me," 
I should have said to those students (I have said it to 
raa,ny of them, as a matter of fact), " you do not 
beheve in God, and that is your own affair ; but why 
do you insult the people by desecrating its temple ?" 
The people once more retorted with its " young 
geijitlemen," and, far worse, with " students " — though 
there were numbers of obscure Jews and Armenians 
among the offenders (the demonstration was, as we 
now know, a political one, and organized from out- 
side). In the same way, after the Sassulitch^ case, 
the people dubbed all the revolver-heroes "young 
gentlemen." That is bad, though there actually were 
students among them. Bad is it too that the people 
should have marked down the students, and should 
treat them maUciously and inimically. You your- 
selves, gentlemen, in accord with the intellectual 
press, designate the people of Moscow as " butchers." 
What may that mean ? Why are " butchers " not 
members of the people ? They are, and of the true 

1 The Cathedral of Our Lady, at Kazan in Petersburg. 
* Vera Sassulitch, a notorious Terrorist, was tried for a poHtical 
crime, but was acquitted by the jury, 


people ; was not the great Minin^ a butcher ? Many 
are at this moment enraged by the manner in which 
the people has chosen to express its feelings. But 
mark this : when the people is offended, it always 
manifests its emotion in that manner. The people is 
rough, for it consists of peasants. The whole thing 
was in reality but the breakiog out of a misunder- 
standing which has existed, time out of mind (and 
has hitherto been merely unperceived), between the 
people and society, that is to say, the younger genera- 
tion, which stands for fieriness and rash impulses. 
The thing certainly was very iU done, and not at all 
as it ought to have been, for with fists one can 
demonstrate nothing. But so it has been ever and 
everywhere, with every people. The Enghsh often 
come to blows at their pubhc meetings ; the French 
sang and danced before the guillotine, while it did its 
work. But the fact remains that the people (the 
whole people, not only the " butchers " ; it is poor 
consolation to caU names) has revolted against the 
younger generation, and has marked down the 
students ; on the other hand, it is true, we must 
acknowledge the no less perturbing fact (and very 
significant it is) that the press, society, and the young 
men have conspired to misjudge the people, and to 
say : " This is no people, but a mob." 

Gentlemen, if you find anything in my words which 
contravenes your views, your best plan will be not to 
get angry with me about it. There is trouble enough 
without that. In our putrid society, nothing reigns 
but sheer deception. It can no longer hold together 
by its own strength. The people alone is strong and 
steadfast, but between society and the people there 

1 Minin was a national hero in the interregnum of 1610-13. 


have reigned for the last ten years most terrible mis- 
understandings. When our sentimentalists freed the 
people from serfdom, they believed, in full tide of 
emotion, that the people would instantly take to its 
bosom that European fraud which they call civilization. 
But the people showed itself to be very independent, 
and now it is beginning to realize the insincerity of 
the upper stratum in our society. The events of the 
last couple of years have but strengthened it, and 
made many things clear to its eyes. Nevertheless, 
the people can distinguish between its enemies and^ 
its friends. Assuredly many sad and deplorable facts 
must be recognized : sincere, honest young men, 
earnestly seeking the truth, went on their quest to 
the people, trying to alleviate its woes. And what 
happened ? The people drove them away, and refused 
to recognize their honest efforts. For those young 
men hold the people to be otherwise than as it is ; 
they hate and despise its ideals, and offer it remedies 
which it cannot but regard as senseless and crazy. 

With us in Petersburg the devil is indeed let 
loose. Among the young men reigns the cult of the 
revolver, and the conviction that the Government is 
afraid of them. The people, now as ever, despises the 
young men, and reckons not at all with them ; but 
they do not perceive that the people has no fear of 
them and will never lose its head. What, when 
another encounter takes place, will come of it ? 
Gentlemen, we live in disquieting times ! 

I have written you, gentlemen, what I could. At 
any rate I have, though not sufficiently at length, 
answered your question : In my view, the students 
are in no wise to blame, but the contrary ; our youth 
was never yet so sincere and honest as now (a fact 


which has its significance, great and historical). But 
unhappily our youth bears about with it the whole 
delusion of our two centuries of history. Conse- 
quently it has not the power thoroughly to sift the 
facts, and is in no sense to blame, particularly as it is 
an interested party in the affair (and, moreover, the 
offended party). Blessed, none the less, be those 
who shall find the right path in these circumstances ! 
The breach with environment is bound to be much 
more decisive than the breach between the society of 
to-day and to-morrow, which the Socialists prophesy. 

^ For if one wants to go to the people and remain with 
the people, one must first of all learn not to scorn the 
people ; and this it is weU-nigh impossible for our 
upper class to do. In the second place, one must 
believe in God, which is impossible for Russian 
Europeans (though the genuine Europeans of Europe 

I do believe in God). 

I greet you, gentlemen, and, if you wiU permit me, 
grasp your hands. If you want to do me a great 
pleasure, do not, for God's sake, regard me as a 
preacher who sets up to lecture you. You have 
called upon me to tell you the truth with my soul 
and conscience, and I have told you the truth as I 
see it, and as best I can. For no man can do more 
than his powers and capacities permit him. 

Your devoted, 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 


^T. 58] AN ADMIRER 247 


To Mile. N. N. 


April 11, 1880. 

Much-honoured and geacious Lady, 

Forgive my having left your beautiful kind 
letter unanswered for so long; do not regard it as 
negligence on my part. I wanted to say something 
very direct and cordial to you, but my life goes by, 
I vow, in such disorder and hurry that it is only at 
rare moments that I belong to myself at all. Even 
now, when at last I have a moment in which to write 
to you, I shall be able to impart but a tiny fragment 
of aU that fills my heart, and that I should like to 
touch upon with you. Your opinion of me is extra- 
ordinarily precious to me ; your lady-mother has 
shown me the passage in your letter to her which 
relates to myself, and your words moved me pro- 
foundly, nay ! even astonished me : for I know that 
as a writer I have" many faults, and even I myself am 
never satisfied with myself. I must tell you that in 
those fi"equent and grievous moments wherein I seek 
to judge myself, I come to the painful conclusion that 
in my works I never have said so much as the 
twentieth part of what I wished to say, and perhaps 
could, actually, have said. My only refuge is the 
constant hope that God will some day bestow upon 
me such inspiration and such power as are requisite 
to bring to full expression all that fills my heart and 
imagination. Recently there took place here the 
public debate by the young philosopher Vladimir 
Solovyov (a son of the renowned historian) of his 


thesis for Doctor's degree ; and I heard him make 
the following profound remark : " I am firmly con- 
vinced that mankind knows much more than it has 
hitherto expressed either in science or art." Just so 
it is with me : I feel that much more is contained in 
me than I have as yet uttered in my writings. And 
if I lay all false modesty aside, I must acknowledge 
that even in what I have written, there is much that 
came from the very depth of my heart. I swear to 
you that though I have received much recognition, 
possibly more than I deserve, stUl the critics, the 
literary newspaper critics, who certainly have often 
(no, rather, very seldom) praised me, nevertheless 
have always spoken of me so lightly and superficially 
that I am obliged to assume that all those things 
which my heart brought forth with pain and tribula- 
tion, and which came directly from my soul, have 
simply passed unperceived. From this you .can 
divine what a pleasant impression must have been 
made upon me by the delicate and searching com- 
ments on my work which I read in your letter to 
your lady-mother. 

But I am writing only of myself, which after all in 
a letter to the discerning and sympathetic critic whom 
I perceive in you is natural enough. You write 
to me of the phase which your mind is just now 
undergoing. 1 know that you are an artist — a painter. 
Permit me to give you a piece of advice which truly 
comes from my heart: stick to your art, and give 
yourself up to it even more than hitherto. I know, 
for I have heard (do not take this ill of me) that you 
are not happy. To live alone, and continually to 
reopen the wounds in your heart by dwelling upon 
memories, may well make your life too drear for 

^T. 58] DUALITY 249 

endurance. There is but one cure, one refuge, for that 
woe : art, creative activity. But do not put it upon _ 
yourself to write me your confession : that would 
I assuredly tax you too far. Forgive me for offering 
you advice ; I should very much like to see you and 
say a few words face to face. After the letter that 
you have written, I must necessarily regard you as 
; one dear to me, as a being akin to my soul, as my 
heart's sister — how could I fail to feel with you ? 
; But now to what you have told me of your inward 
duality. That trait is indeed common to all . . . 
that is, all who are not wholly commonplace. Nay, 
it is common to human nature, though it does not 
evince itself so strongly in all as it does in you. It 
is precisely on this ground that I cannot but regard 
you as a twin soul, for your inward duality corre- 
sponds most exactly to my own. It causes at once 
great torment, and great delight. Such duality 
simply means that you have a strong sense of your- 
self, much aptness for self-criticism, and an innate 
feeling for your moral duty to yourself and all man- 
kind. If your intelligence were less developed, if you 
were more limited, you would be less sensitive, and 
would not possess that duality. Rather the reverse : 
, in its stead would have appeared great arrogance^ 
; Yet such duahty is a great torment. My dear, my 
' revered Mile. N. N., do you believe in Christ and in 
His commandments ? If you believe in Him (or at 
least have a strong desire to do so), then give yourself 
whoUy up to Him ; the pain of your duahty will be 
thereby alleviated, and you will find the true way 
out— but belief is first of all in importance. Forgive 
the untidiness of my letter. If you only knew how 
I am losing the capacity to write letters, and what a 


difficulty I find it I But having gained such a friend 
as you, I don't wish to lose her in a hurry. 

Farewell. Your most devoted and heartfelt 



To Frau E. A. Stackenschneider 


July 17, 1880. 

Much-esteemed Elena Andreyevna, 

I must call upon all your humanity and indul- 
gence when I ask you to forgive me for having left 
your beautiful kind letter of June 19 so long un- 
answered. But I shall beg you to consider facts; 
you may then perhaps find it in your power to be 
indulgent even to me. On June 11 I returned from 
Moscow to Staraya-Roussa, was frightfully tired, but 
sat down at once to the " Karamazovs," and wrote 
three whole sheets at one blow. After I had sent off 
the MS., I applied myself to the reading of all the news- 
paper articles that dealt with my speech at Moscow 
(I had been so busy till then that I had had no time 
for them), and I decided to write a rejoinder to 
Gradovsky ; it was to be not so much an answer to 
him as a manifesto of our faith for all Russia : for the 
significant and moving crisis in the life of our society 
which declared itself at Moscow, during the Pushkin 
celebrations, was deliberately misrepresented by the 
press, and thrust of set purpose into the background. 
Our press, particularly that of Petersburg; was 
alarmed by this new development, which is indeed 
without parallel : society has plainly shown that it 


has had enough of the everlasting jeering and spitting 

at Russia, and is consequently desirous of something 

different. But that fact had of course to be distorted, 

hushed-up, laughed at, misrepresented : " Nothing of 

the sort ! It was but the general beatitude after the 

opulent Moscow banquets. The gentlemen had 

simply over-eaten themselves. " I had already decided, 

at Moscow, to publish my speech in the Moskovskoie 

Viedomosti^ and to bring out a number of the 

Diary immediately afterwards in Petersburg; in 

that number, which, by-the-bye, will be the only one 

this year, I thought of printing my speech, with a 

preamble, moreover, which occurred to me the very 

instant I had finished speaking — on the platform 

itself, at the moment when, together with Aksakov 

and the rest, even Turgenev and Annenkov rushed 

up to cover me with kisses, and then shook hands 

with me, protesting over and over again that I had 

done great things. God grant they're of the same 

opinion still ! 

I can vividly imagine how they now criticize my 
speech, having recovered from their first enthusiasm 
—and indeed this is precisely the theme of my 
preamble. When the speech, with the preamble, had 
been sent to the printers in Petersburg, nay, when I 
actually had the proofs in my hands, 1 suddenly 
resolved to write yet another chapter for the 
Biary in the shape of my profession de foi for 
Gradovsky ; it grew into two sheets, I put my whole 
soul into the article, and have sent it to the printers 
only this very day. Yesterday was Fedya's birthday. 
We had visitors, but I sat apart and finished the 
article. So you see that you must not take it ill that 

^ The Moscow News. 


I am answering your letter only now. I dearly love 
you, as you well know! I could never give my 
Moscow impressions in a letter, still less my present 
state of mind. 1 am filled up with work — it is real 
hard labour. I want to have the fourth and last part 
of " The Brothers Karamazov " ready in September at 
all costs, and when I return to Petersburg in the 
autumn, I shall be comparatively free for a while ; in 
that clear time I want to get myself ready for the 
Diary, with which I propose to go on in the coming 
year 1881. 

Are you on a summer holiday ? How did the 
Moscow news reach you ? I don't know what 
Gayevsky may have told you, but the affair with 
Katkov was not a bit like what you think. The 
Society of Lovers of Russian Literature, which 
organized the festival, seriously insulted Katkov by 
asking him to return the invitation-card which he 
had originally received ; Katkov had made his speech 
at the banquet held by the Town Council, and at the 
Town Council's request. Turgenev had no grounds 
whatever for anticipating any affront from Katkov ; 
Katkov was much more justified in dreading some 
sort of annoyance. For Turgenev there had been 
prepared so colossal a reception (by Kovalevsky and 
the University people) that he really had nothing to 
fear. Turgenev insulted Katkov first. When, after 
Katkov's speech, such men as Ivan Aksakov went up 
to clink glasses with him (even his opponents did 
that), Katkov stretched out his hand with the glass 
in it to Turgenev, that they, too, might clink ; but 
Turgenev drew his hand away, and would not. So 
Turgenev himself told me. 

You ask me to send you my speech. But I have 



not a single transcript of it, and the only copy is at 
the printers, where the Diary is now being set up. 
The Diary will appear about August 5 ; bestow 
some attention on that number, and show it, also, to 
my dear collaborator, Andrey Andreyevitch. I 
should like to hear his opinion too. 

Your devoted 



To N. L. Osmidov 

Staraya- Roussa, 

Avgust 18, 1880. 

Much-esteemed Nikolay Lukitch 1 

I have read your letter very attentively ; but 
how am I to answer it ? You remark yourself, most 
justly, that one can't really say anything at all in a 
letter. I too am of opinion that one can deal only 
with quite ordinary matters in any satisfactory way. 
But besides that, it really would be idle for you to 
come even personally for advice to me, for I don't 
consider myself competent to resolve your questions. 
You write that hitherto you have given your 
daughter nothing that is purely literary to read, lest 
her fancy should become over-developed. This 
does not appear to me entirely a right point of view ; 
for fancy is an inborn capacity of human beings ; in 
a child, it outweighs all others, and should most 
undoubtedly be nourished. For if we give a child's 
imagination no nourishment, it may easily die out, or, 
on the other hand, may over-develop itself from its 
own sheer force, which is no less undesirable. For 
such an abnormal over-development prematurely 
exhausts the child's mental powers. And impres- 


sions of the beautiful, moreover, are precisely in 
childhood of the greatest importance. 

When I was ten years old, I saw at Moscow a 
performance of "Die Rauber,"^ with Motchalov in 
one of the chief parts, and I can only say that the 
deep impression which that performance made upon 
me has worked most fruitfully ever since upon my 
whole mental development. At twelve, I read right 
through Walter Scott during the summer hohdays ; 
certainly such reading did extraordinarily stimulate 
my imagination and sensibility, but it led them into 
good, not evil, paths ; I got from it many fine 
and noble impressions, which gave my soul much 
power of resistance against others which were seduc- 
tive, violent, and corrupting. So I advise you to give 
your daughter now the works of Walter Scott, and 
all the more, because he is for the moment neglected 
by us Russians, and your daughter, when she is older, 
will have neither opportunity nor desire to make 
acquaintance with that great writer ; therefore hasten 
now, while she is still in her parents' house, to intro- 
duce him to her. Besides, Walter Scott has a high 
educational value. She should also read aU Dickens's 
works without exception. Make her acquainted, too, 
with the literature of past centuries (" Don Quixote," 
" Gil Bias," etc). It would be best for her to begin 
with poetry. She should read all Pushkin, verse as 
well as prose. Gogol likewise. Ifyoulike, Turgenev 
and Gontscharov as well ; as to my own works, I don't 
think that all of them are suitable for your daughter. 
It would be well for her to read Schlosser's " Welt- 
geschichte," and Solovyov's Russian history ; nor 
should she omit Karamsin. Don't give her Kosto- 

^ A tragedy by Schiller. 


marov as yet. The " Conquest of Peru and Mexico " 
by Prescott is most necessary. In general, historical 
works have immense educational value. She should 
read Leo Tolstoy all through ; also Shakespeare, 
SchiUer, and Goethe ; these writers are to be had in 
good Russian translations. That will be enough fpr 
the present. With time, in a few years, you will see 
yourself that there is much besides. Journalistic 
reading should, in the beginning at any rate, be kept 
from her. I don't know if my advice will commend 
itself to you. I write after much reflection, and out 
of my own personal experience. I shall be very glad 
if it is really of use to you. I think a personal visit 
from you is quite superfluous at present, and the 
more, because I am very much occupied. But 1 
must say once again that I am not particularly com- 
petent in such matters. 

The number of the Diary that you asked for 
has been sent to you. It comes, with postage, to 
35 kopecks ; so the balance of 65 kopecks stands to 
your credit with me. 

Yours truly and faithfully 



I'o I. S. Aksakov 


August 28, 1880. 

My dear and honoured Ivan Sergeyevitch, 

I meant to answer your first letter by return, 

and now, having received your second, so precious to 

me, I see that I have a great deal to say to you. 

Never yet in my life have I found a critic who was so 


sincere, and so very sympathetic for my work. I had 
almost forgotten that there could be such critics, and 
that they actually exist. I don't mean to say by this 
that I see absolutely eye-to-eye with you in all things, 
but I must, at any rate, point out the following fact : 
Although I have been issuing my Diary for two years 
now, and consequently have some experience, I am 
still beset by doubts in many respects — as to what 
I am to say about certain matters, what tone I am to 
adopt, and on what subjects I should keep silence 
altogether. Your letter came just in such a moment 
of hesitation, for I have firmly resolved to continue 
my Diary in the coming year, and so I am much 
perturbed, and often put up my prayer to Him on 
whom one should ever call for the needfol strength, 
and above all the needful ability. Thus it pecuharly 
rejoices me to have you; for now I see that I can 
impart to you at least a portion of my questionings, 
and that you can always answer me with something 
most frank and far-seeing. This conviction I have 
gained from your two last letters. Unfortunately 
I should have to write you a lot about all this, and 
just now I am very busy, and not at all inclined for 
letters. You simply can't imagine how frightfully 
busy I am, day and night; it is real hard labour! 
For I am now finishing the " Karamazovs," and con- 
sequently summing up the entire work, which is 
personally very dear to me, for I have put a great 
deal of my inmost self into it. I work, in general, 
very nervously, with pain and travail of soul. When- 
ever I am writing, I am physically ill. And now 
I have to sum up all that I have pondered, gathered, 
set down, in the last three years. I must make this 
work good at all costs, or at least as good as / can. 

iET. 59] HIS LAST NOVEL 257 

I simply don't know how anyone can write at great 

speed, and only for the money's sake. Now the time 

is come when I must wind up this novel, and that 

without delay. You will hardly beheve me : many a 

chapter, for which I had been making notes all those 

three years, I was obliged, after finally setting it 

down, to reject, and write anew. Only separate 

passages, which were directly inspired by enthusiasm, 

came o& at first writing ; all the rest was hard work. 

For these reasons I can't possibly write to you at the 

moment, despite my ardent desire ; I am not in the 

requisite state of mind, and moreover I do not wish 

to dissipate my energies. I shall not be able to write 

to you until about September 10, when I shall have 

the work behind me. In the meantime, I shall 

thoroughly ponder my letter, for the questions in 

hand are weighty, and I want to present them as 

lucidly as may be. So do not be angry with me, nor 

accuse me of indifference ; if you only knew what an 

error that would be on your part ! 

In the meantime I embrace you, and thank you 

from my heart. I need you, and must therefore love 


Your truly devoted 


To Doctor A. F. Blagonravov^ 


December 19, 1880. 

Honoured Alexander Fyodorovitch, 

I thank you for your letter. You judge very 
rightly when you opine that I hold all evil to be 

' Doctor Blagonravov had given Dostoevsky his opinion (from a 



grounded upon disbelief, and maintain that he who 
abjures nationalism, abjures faith also. That applies 
especially to Russia, for with us national conscious- 
ness is based on Christianity. " A Christian peasant- 
people " ; " believing Russia " : these are our 
fundamental conceptions. A Russian who abjures 
nationalism (and there are many such) is either an 
atheist or indifferent to religious questions. And the 
converse : an atheist or indijSerentist cannot possibly 
understand the Russian people and Russian nation- 
alism. The essential problem of our day is : How are 
we to persuade our educated classes of this principle ? 
If one but utters a word in such a sense, one will 
either be devoured alive, or denounced as a traitor. 
And whom shaU one have betrayed ? Truly, naught 
but a party which has lost touch with reaUty, and for 
which not even a label can be found, for they know 
not themselves what to call themselves. Or is it the 
people whom one shall have betrayed ? No ; for 
I desire with the people to abide, for only from the 
people is anything worth whUe to be looked for — not 
from the educated class, which abjures the people, 
and is not even " educated." 

But a new generation is on the way, which will 
desire union with the people. The first sign of true 
fellowship wdth the people is veneration and love for 
that which the great mass of the people loves and 
venerates — that is to say, for its God and its faith. 

This new Russian intelligence is beginning, as it 
seems to me, to lift its head, and precisely now is its 
co-operation in the common task essential ; and this 
it is coming, itself, to perceive. 

physician's point of view), upon the masterly description of the 
hallucination of Ivan Karamazov in the last part of the novel. 


Because I preach faith in God and in the people, 
the gentry here would like to see me disappear from 
the face of the earth. Because of that chapter in the 
" Karamazovs " (of the hallucination) with which you, 
as a physician, are so pleased, it has already been 
sought to stamp me as a reactionary and fanatic, 
who has come to believe in the Devil. The gentle- 
men here, in their simplicity, imagine that the pubhc 
will cry out with one voice : " What ? Dostoevsky 
has begun to write about the Devil now, has he ? 
How obsolete and borne he is !" But I believe that 
they will find themselves mistaken. I thank you for 
having, as a physician, attested for me the authen- 
ticity of my description of the psychical sickness of 
my hero. The opinion of one who is an expert in 
the matter is very valuable to me ; you will, I doubt 
not, allow that Ivan Karamazov, in the given circum- 
stances, could have had no different hallucination. 
I mean to give, in the very next number of the 
Diary, some of the critical pronouncements on that 
particular chapter. 

With the assurance of my sincere respect, I 

Yours most faithfully 

Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

Recollections of Dostoevsky 

by his Friends 



It is a mystery to me to this day how I, innately the 
most extraordinarily nervous and timid of boys, ever 
got through my first year in the College of Engineer- 
ing, where one's comrades were far more ruthless and 
cruel even than one's teachers. 

Amongst the young men who were admitted to 
the CoUege after I had been there about a year, was a 
youth of some seventeen summers, of middle height, 
full figure, blond hair, and sickly, pale countenance. 
This youth was Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoevsky. 
He had come from Moscow to Petersburg with his 
elder brother Michael. The latter did not enter the 
College, but joined the Corps of Sappers, dnd was 
later sent to Reval on his promotion to commis- 
sioned rank. Many years later Michael Dostoevsky 
took his discharge, and returned to Petersburg. 
There he started a cigarette manufactory, but at the 
same time busied himself in literature, translated 
Goethe, wrote a comedy, and, after Fyodor 's return 
from banishment, became editor of the Epoch. 

I made friends with Fyodor Dostoevsky the very 
first day that he entered the College. It's half-a- 
century ago now, but I can well remember how much 



more I cared for him than for any of the other friends 
of my youth. Despite his reticent nature and general 
lack of frankness and youthful expansion, he appeared 
to reciprocate my affection. Dostoevsky always held 
himself aloof, even then, from others, never took part 
in his comrades' amusements, and usually sat in a 
remote corner with a book ; his favourite place was a 
corner in Class-Room IV. by the window. Out of 
school-hours, he nearly always sat with a book by 
that window. 

I had, as a boy, a pliant character, and was easily 
influenced ; thus my relations with Dostoevsky were 
those of not merely attachment, but absolute sub- 
jection. His influence was extraordinarily beneficial 
to me. Dostoevsky was much more advanced in all 
knowledge than I was, and the extent of his reading 
amazed me. The many things he told me about the 
works of writers, whose very names to me were 
unknown, came as a revelation. Hitherto I had, Uke 
the rest of my colleagues, read nothing but text- 
books and abstracts of lectures ; not only because 
other books were forbidden in the College, but from 
lack of interest in literature. 

The first Russian books with which I made 
acquaintance I got from Dostoevsky ; they were a 
translation of Hoffmann's " Kater Murr " and " The 
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater," by Maturin 
[sic] ; the latter was especially prized by Dostoevsky. 
His literary influence was not confined to me alone ; 
three of my colleagues came equally under his spell — 
Beketov, Vitkovsky, and Berechetzky ; in this way 
a little circle was formed, which gathered round 
Dostoevsky in every leisure hour. 

This reading, and the interchange of ideas which 


it brought about, took from me all inclination for my 
studies. Nor did Dostoevsky rank among the best 
pupils. Before the examinations he always made the 
most tremendous efforts, so as to get into a higher 
class. But he did not invariably succeed ; in one 
examination he failed entirely, and was unpromoted. 
This failure worried him so much that he fell ill, and 
had to go to hospital for a while. 

In 1844 or '45 I met him quite by chance in the 
street ; he had then completed his studies, and had 
exchanged military uniform for civilian dress. I 
clasped him in my arms with cries of joy. Even 
Dostoevsky seemed glad, but behaved with some 
reticence. He never was, indeed, given to pubhc 
displays of emotion. My delight at this unexpected 
meeting was so great and genuine that it never even 
occurred to me to feel hurt by his cool behaviour. 
I told him about all my acquaintances in literary 
circles, about my own literary attempts, and at once 
invited him to come to my abode and hear my latest 
production. He willingly agreed. 

When I had read him my story he seemed pleased 
with it, but gave me no very extravagant praise ; with 
one passage he found fault. This was how it ran : 
" When the organ stopped, an official threw a copper 
coin out of his window, which fell at the organ- 
grinder's feet." " No, that's not right," said Dos- 
toevsky, "it is much too dull : ' The copper coin fell 
at the organ-grinder's feet.' You should say, ' The 
copper coin fell clinking and hopping at the man's 
feet '" . . . That remark struck me as a revelation. 

As time went on, I saw more and more of Dosto- 
evsky. At last we decided to set up house together. 
My mother sent me fifty roubles a month, Dostoevsky 


got nearly as much from his relatives in Moscow. 
As things were then, a hundred roubles was quite 
enough for two young fellows ; but we did not under- 
stand housekeeping, and the money usually lasted us 
only for the first fortnight ; for the rest of the month 
we fared on rolls and coffee. The house we lived in 
was at the corner of Vladimir and Grafen Streets ; 
it consisted of a kitchen and two rooms, whose three 
windows looked out on Grafen Street. We had no 
servants ; we made our own tea, and bought all food 

When we set up house, Dostoevsky was working 
at the translation of Balzac's "Eugenie Grandet." 
Balzac was our favourite writer ; we both considered 
him by far the most important of the French authors. 
Dostoevsky succeeded, I know not how, in publishing 
his translation in the Book-Lovers' Library ; I can 
still recollect how vexed Dostoevsky was when that 
number of the magazine reached him — the editor had 
shortened the novel by a third. But that was what 
Senkovsky, then the editor of the Library, always 
did with his collaborators' works, and the authors 
were so glad to see themselves in iprint that they 
never protested. 

My enthusiasm for Dostoevsky was the reason why 
Bielinsky, to whom Nekrassov introduced me, made 
quite a different impression upon me from what 1 
had expected. Properly tutored by Nekrassov, I 
regarded the impending visit to Bielinsky as a great 
joy ; long beforehand I rehearsed the words in which 
I should describe to him my admiration for Balzac. 
But scarcely had I mentioned that my housemate 
Dostoevsky (whose name was still unknown to 
Bielinsky) had translated " Eugenie Grandet " than 




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(letter to his BRIITHER MICHAEL, AUGUST 9.) 


Bielinsky began to abuse our divinity most terribly : 
he called him a writer for the bourgeois, and said that 
there was not a page of « Eugfenie Grandet " without 
some error in taste. I was so nonplussed that I 
forgot every word of the beautifully rehearsed speech. 
Probably I impressed him as a stupid boy who could 
not say a word in defence of his own opinion. 

At that time Dostoevsky would spend whole days, 
and sometimes nights, at his desk. He never said a 
word about what he was working at ; he answered 
my questions unwillingly and laconically, and I soon 
ceased to interrogate him ; I merely saw countless 
sheets covered with Dostoevsky's peculiar writing — 
every letter as if drawn. I have seen no writing like 
it, except that of Dumas pere. When Dostoevsky 
was not writing, he would sit crouched over a book. 
For a while he raved about the novels of Souli^, 
particularly the " Mdmoires des Demons." As a con- 
sequence of his hard work and the sedentary life he 
led, his health was getting worse and worse ; those 
troubles which had occasionally shown themselves 
even in his boyhood now became increasingly fre- 
quent. Sometimes he would even have a fit on one 
of our few walks together. Once we chanced to come 
on a funeral. Dostoevsky insisted on turning back 
at once ; but he had scarcely gone a few steps when 
he had such a violent fit that I was obliged to carry 
him, with the help of some passers-by, into the nearest 
shop ; it was with great difficulty that we restored 
him to consciousness. Such attacks were usually fol- ^ 
lowed by a state of great depression, which lasted two 
or three days. 

One morning Dostoevsky called me into his room ; 
he was sitting on the divan which served as bed also. 


and before him on the little writing-table lay a thickish 
manuscript-book, large size, with speckled edges. 

" Sit down here a while, Grigorovitch ; I only 
wrote it out fair yesterday and I want to read it to 
you ; but don't interrupt me," said he, with unusual 

The work which he then read to me at one breath, 
with no pauses at all, soon afterwards appeared in 
print under the title of " Poor Folk." 

I always had a very high opinion of Dostoevsky ; 
his wide reading, his knowledge of literature, his 
opinions, and the deep seriousness of his character, aU 
extraordinarily impressed me ; I often asked myself 
how it was that, while I had already written and pub- 
lished a good deal, and so could account myself a 
literary man, Dostoevsky did not yet share this dis- 
tinction. But with the first pages of " Poor Folk " it 
was borne in on me that this work was incomparably 
greater than anything that I had so far written ; that 
conviction increased as he read on. I was quite en- 
chanted, and several times longed to clutch and hug 
him ; only that objection of his to efiusions of feeling, 
which I knew so well, restrained me — ^but I could not 
possibly sit there in silence, and interrupted him every 
moment with exclamations of delight. 

The consequences of that reading are weU-known. 
Dostoevsky has himself related in his Diary how 
I tore the manuscript from him by force, and took it 
to Nekrassov forthwith. He has indeed out of modesty 
said nothing of the reading to Nekrassov. I myself 
read the work aloud. At the last scene, when old 
Dyevuchkin takes leave of Varenyka, I could no 
longer control myself, and broke into sobs. I saw 
that Nekrassov also was weeping. I then pointed out 


to him that a good deed should never be put ofF, and 
that, in spite of the late hour, he should instantly 
betake himself to Dostoevsky, to tell him of his 
success and talk over the details of the novel's 
appearance in the magazine. 

Nekrassov too was very much excited ; he agreed, 
and we really did go straight off to Dostoevsky. 

I must confess that I had acted rashly. For I 
knew the character of my housemate, his morbid 
sensibility and reserve, his shyness — and I ought to 
have told him aU quite quietly next morning, instead 
of waking him in the middle of the night, and, more- 
over, bringing a strange man to visit him. 

Dostoevsky himself opened the door to our knock- 
ing ; when he saw me with a stranger, he was 
frightfully embarrassed, turned pale, and for a long 
time could make no response to Nekrassov's eulogiums. 
When our guest had gone, I expected that Dostdevsky 
would overwhelm me with reproaches. But that did 
not happen ; he merely shut himself up in his room, 
and for a long time I heard him walking excitedly up 
and down. 

After Dostoevsky had in this way come to know 
Nekrassov, and through him Bielinsky too (for the 
latter, also, soon read "Poor Folk" in manuscript), 
he was suddenly as if metamorphosed. During the 
printing of the novel he was continually in a state of 
the most excessive nervous excitement. His reserve 
went so far that he never told me a word of what 
further ensued between him and Nekrassov. I heard 
indirectly that he exacted from Nekrassov that his 
novel shoidd be set up in quite peculiar type, and 
that every page should have a sort of framing. I was 


not present at the negotiations, and cannot therefore 
say whether these rumours were founded on truth. 

One thing I can decidedly say : the success of 
"Poor Folk," and still more the extravagant eulogiums 
of Bielinsky, had a bad influence on Dostoevsky, who 
till then had lived wholly shut in with himself and 
had associated only with people who took no interest 
at all in literature. How could such a man as he 
have remained in his normal condition of mind, when 
at his very first entrance to the literary career, an 
authority like Bielinsky prostrated himseK before 
him, and loudly proclaimed that a new star had 
arisen in Russian literature ? Soon after " Poor Folk," 
Dostoevsky wrote his novel " Mr. Prochartchin," 
which likewise was read aloud to Nekrassov ; I was 
invited to the reading. Bielinsky sat opposite the 
author, listened greedily to every word, and now and 
then expressed his delight^ — saying over and over 
again that nobody but Dostoevsky was capable of 
such psychological subtleties. 

But perhaps Bielinsky 's enthusiasm had less effect 
on him than the subsequent complete revulsion in 
Bielinsky's appreciation and that of his circle. 

About that time Bielinsky said in a letter to 
Annenkov : " Dostoevsky 's ' Mistress of the Inn ' is 
terrible stuff! He has attempted a combination of 
Marlinsky^ and Hoffmann, with a dash of Gogol. 
He has written other novels besides, but every new 
work of his is a new calamity. In the provinces they 
can't stand him at all, and in Petersburg even ' Poor 
Folk ' is abused ; I tremble at the thought th9,t I 

^ Alexander Bestuchev (pseudonym, Marlinsky), 1795-1837, a 
novelist very popular at that period. 


l|hall have to read this novel once more. We've been 
iwell taken in by our ' gifted ' Dostoevsky 1" 
P So Bielinsky wrote, the most honest man in the 
world, and he meant every word of it most honestly 
and thoroughly. Bielinsky never flinched from de- 
claring his opinion of Dostoevsky,, and all his circle 
echoed him. 

The unexpected transition from idolization of the 
author of "Poor Folk" to complete denial of his 
literary talent might well have crushed even a less 
sensitive and ambitious writer than Dostoevsky. 
Thenceforth he avoided all those who were connected 
with Bielinsky's circle, and became more reserved 
and irritable than ever. At a meeting with Turgenev, 
who likewise belonged to Bielinsky's set, Dostoevsky 
unhappily lost control of himself, and all the anger 
which had gathered in him flamed forth ; he said that 
he was not afraid of any one of them, and would 
tread them all into the mud in time. I forget what 
was the immediate cause of the outbreak ; I think 
they were speaking of Gogol, among others. But in 
any case I am convinced that Dostoevsky was to 
blame. Turgenev was never given to quarrelling ; 
he might rather be reproached with too great pUancy 
and gentleness of character. 

After the scene with Turgenev it came to an open 
breach between Dostoevsky and the Bielinsky set. 
Now they overwhelmed him with derision and biting 
epigrams, and he was accused of monstrous conceit ; 
they said too that he was jealous of Gogol, whom in 
justice he should adore, since on every page of " Poor 
Folk " the influence of Gogol was unmistakable. 

This last reproach, if it is a reproach for a novice, 
was not quite unjustified. Old Dyevuchkin in " Poor 


Folk" does undoubtedly recall Poprischtschin the 
functionary, in the " Memoirs of a Madman " of 
Gogol ; in the scene where Dyevuchkin loses a 
button in the presence of his superiors and, much 
embarrassed, tries to pick it up, one cannot but 
think of that scene of Gogol's where Poprischtschin 
tries to pick up the handkerchief which his superior's 
daughter has dropped, and comes to grief on the 
parquet floor. Not only the constant use of the same 
word over and over again, but the whole composition, 
betrays Gogol's influence. 

Once, I forget why, he and I feU out. The conse- 
quence was that we decided to give up living together. 
But we parted on good terms. Later I often met 
him with acquaintances, and we treated one another 
as old friends. 

1848 271 



I MADE Dostoevsky's acquaintance in the winter of 
1848. That was a momentous period for enthusiastic 
and cultured youth. After the February Revolution 
in Paris, the reforms of Pius IX,, the risings in 
Milan, Venice, and Naples, the victory of liberal 
ideas in Germany and the revolutions of Berlin and 
Vienna, everyone believed in the renaissance of the 
whole European world. The rotted pillars of reaction 
were crumbling one after the other, and aU over 
Europe new life seemed to be in bud. Yet in Russia, 
at that time, prevailed the most crushing reaction : 
Science, no less than the Press, could hardly breathe 
beneath the heavy yoke of the administration, and 
every sign of mental vitality was stifled. From 
abroad, a quantity of liberal writings, partly scientific, 
partly literary, were smuggled into the country. In 
the French and German papers, people, despite the 
Censorship, were reading stirring articles ; but among 
ourselves aU scientific and literary activity was ren- 
dered well-nigh impossible, and the Censorship tore 
each new book to pieces. Naturally all this had a 
highly exciting effect upon the younger generation, 
who on the one hand were, through these foreign 



books and journals, making acquaintance not only 
with Liberal ideas, but with the most extreme Socialist 
doctrine ; and on the other, were finding that the 
most harmless notions of Liberahsm were relentlessly 
persecuted in their own country — they would read 
the flaming speeches made in the French Chamber 
and at Frankfort, and at the same time see how, 
among ourselves, someone was punished like a criminal 
every day for an incautious word or a " forbidden " 
book. Almost every foreign post brought news of 
fresh rights gained for themselves by the people, 
while in Russian society one heard only of fresh 
" special decrees " and persecutions. All who remember 
that time will know the effect this had upon the 
younger generation. 

There now began to form, in Petersburg, little 
groups of young men, who for the most part had but 
recently left the High Schools. These assembled 
solely to discuss the latest news and rumours, and 
to express opinions freely. In these groups, new 
acquaintances were made, and old ones renewed. 

I happened in this way to be present at an assembly 
which took place at the abode of the young writer 
A. N. Plechtcheyev. I there entered into relations 
with a set of men whose memories I shall ever cherish. 
Among others were present : Porfiry Lamansky, 
Sergey Dourov, Nikolay Monbelli and Alexander 
Palm, both of whom were officers of the Guards— 
and the brothers Michael and Fyodor Dostoevsky. 
All these young men were extraordinarily sympathetic 
to me. I became particularly intimate with the two 
Dostoevskys and Monbelli. The latter then lived in 
barracks, and we used to assemble at his quarters too. 
I made further acquaintances among his circle, and 


learnt that large assemblies took place at the abode 
of one M. V. Butachevitch-Petrachevsky, whereat 
speeches on political and social questions were made. 
Someone offered to take me to Petrachevsky ; but 
I declined, not from timidity or indifference, but 
because Petrachevsky, whose acquaintance I had 
recently made, had not particularly attracted me ; he 
held quite too paradoxical opinions, and showed a 
certain aversion for all things Russian. 

On the contrary I very willingly accepted an 
invitation to enter the little group which gathered 
about Dourov ; he attracted many who belonged also 
to Petrachevsky's set, but embraced more moderate 
opinions. Dourov lived at that time with Palm in 
Gorochovoya Street. At his small abode there 
assembled every Friday an organized circle of young 
men, among whom the military element was repre- 
sented. As the host was of modest means, and the 
guests always remained until three o'clock in the 
morning, each had to pay a monthly contribution 
towards the entertainment, and the hire of a piano. 
I attended these evenings regularly, until in conse- 
quence of the arrest of Petrachevsky and the members 
of his circle, they were suspended. 

Dostoevsky also frequented these evenings at 
Dourov' s. Our circle occupied itself with no revolu- 
tionary plans of any kind, and had no written statutes 
at all ; in short, it could not possibly be described as 
a secret society. We assembled to exchange the then 
proscribed books, and to discuss questions which were 
not permitted to be openly touched on. Most of all 
were we interested in the question of the emancipa- 
tion of the peasants, and at our meetings we always 
spoke of the ways and means to this reform. Some 



thought that in view of the reaction which had been 
brought about in our country by the European revo- 
lutions, the Government would never decide to carry 
out the emancipation of the peasants, and that it 
would come rather jfrom below than from above; 
others, on the contrary, maintained that our people 
had no desire whatever to follow in the footsteps of 
the European revolutionaries, and would patiently 
await the decision of their fate by the Government. 
In this sense, Fyodor Dostoevsky expressed himself 
with particular emphasis. When anybody in his 
vicinity declared that the emancipation of the peasants 
by the lawful path was most doubtful, he would retort 
that he believed in no other path. 

We talked too of literature, but chiefly with 
reference to remarkable newspaper articles. Occa- 
sionally the older writers were discussed, and very 
severe, one-sided, and mistaken judgments often 
found expression. Once when the subject happened 
to be Dershavin, and somebody declared that he was 
much more of a turgid and servile ode-maker and 
courtier than the great poet for which his contem- 
poraries and the schools had taken him, Dostoevsky 
sprang up as if stung by a wasp, and cried : " What ! 
No poetic rapture, no true ardour, in Dershavin? 
His not the loftiest poetry ? " 

And forthwith he declaimed from memory a poem 
of Dershavin's with such power, with such ardour, 
that the singer of Catherine the Great rose at once 
in our estimation. Another time he dehvered some 
poems of Pushkin and Victor Hugo, similar in subject, 
and proved to us, with great success, that our poet 
was a much more remarkable artist than the French- 


ferDourov's circle included many fervent Socialists. 
Intoxicated by the Utopias of certain foreign theorists, 
they saw in this doctrine the dawn of a new religion, 
which one day should remodel the world on the basis 
of a new social order. Everything that appeared in 
French on the question was discussed hotfoot by us. 
We were always talking about the Utopias of Robert 
Owen and Cabet, but still more, perhaps, of Fourier's 
phalanstery, and Proudhon's theory of progressive 
taxation. We all took an equal interest in the 
Socialists, but many refused to beHeve in the possi- 
bility of practically realizing their teachings. Among 
these latter was, again, Dostoevsky. He read all the 
works on Socialism, it is true, but remained wholly 
sceptical. Though he granted that all these doctrines 
were founded on noble ideals, he nevertheless regarded 
the Socialists as honest, but foolish, visionaries. He 
would say again and again that none of these theories 
could have any real meaning for us, and that we must 
find our material for the development of Russian 
society not in the doctrines of foreign Socialists, but 
in the life and customs, sanctified by centuries of use, 
of our own people, in whom had long been apparent 
far more enduring and normal conceptions than were 
to be found in all the Utopias of Saint-Simon. To 
him (he would say) life in a commune or in a phalan- 
stery would seem much more terrible than in a 
Siberian prison. I need not say that our Socialists 
stuck to their opinions. 

\ All new laws and other actions of the Government 
were also discussed and severely criticized by us. In 
view of the arbitrary rule which prevailed in our 
country, and the grand events which were coming off 
in Western Europe, and inspiring us with the hope 


of a better and freer mode of existence, our discontent 
is wholly comprehensible. In this respect Dostoevsky 
showed the same zeal and the same rebellious spirit 
as the other members of our circle. I cannot now 
remember the actual content of his speeches, but I do 
recollect that he ever protested against all measures 
which in any way implied the oppression of the 
people, and was especially infuriated by those abuses 
from which the lowest ranks of society and the 
students equally suffered. One could always recog- 
nize the author of " Poor Folk " in his judgments. 
One of us proposed that discourses should be held in 
our assembhes ; each was to write an indictment of 
the Government, and read it aloud to the rest; 
Dostoevsky approved this plan, and promised to do 
something of the kind. I forget whether he carried 
out his promise. The first discourse, which was 
given by one of the officers, dealt with an anecdote 
which was at that time common talk ; Dostoevsky 
found fault both with the subject and the form of 
this effort. On one of the evenings, I read a passage 
from Lamennais' "Paroles d'un Croyant," which I 
had translated into " Church-Russian." Dostoevsky 
assured me that the grave Bibhcal language of my 
translation sounded much more impressive than that 
of the original. Later on, we resolved to print 
several copies of some of our members' papers, and 
circulate them widely ; but this plan was never carried 
out, for just then the majority of our friends, and 
those in particular who had attended the Petrachevsky 
evenings, were arrested. 

Shortly before the break-up of the Dourov circle, 
one of its members had been in Moscow, and had 
brought from there a transcript of the famous letter 


which Bielinsky had written to Gogol in the course 
of his "Correspondence with Friends." Fyodor 
Dostoevsky read this letter aloud both in our circle 
and in the houses of several of his friends, and also 
gave it to different people to be transcribed anew. 
This was subsequently the main pretext for his arrest 
and banishment. Bielinsky's letter, in its paradoxical 
one-sidedness, would scarcely impress anyone much 
at this time of day, but it then produced a remarkable 
effect upon all minds. Along with this letter, there 
was then circulating in our set a humorous article 
by Alexander Herzen (similarly brought from 
Moscow), in which our two capitals were contrasted 
no less wittily than maliciously. On the arrest of 
the Petrachevsky group, I know that numerous copies 
of these two works were seized. Besides our evenings 
for discussion and reading, we had musical ones. At 
our last assembly, a very gifted pianist played 
Rossini's overture to " William Tell." 

On April 23, 1849, I heard, through Michael Dos- 
toevsky, of the arrest of his brother Fyodor, as well 
as of Dourov, Monbelli, Filippov, and others. A 
fortnight later, I was told one morning that Michael 
"Dostoevsky also had been arrested the night before. 
His wife and children were left whoUy without means 
of support, for he had no regular income whatever, and 
lived entirely by his literary work. As I knew the 
tranquil and reserved character of Michael Dostoevsky, 
I was really but little concerned as to his fate ; it is 
true that he had frequented Petrachevsky, but he had 
been in disagreement with most members of the circle. 
So far as I knew, there could be little against him. 
Therefore 1 hoped that he would soon be set at liberty. 
As a matter of fact, he was, at the end of May ; and 


came to me, early in the morning, to look up his son 
Fedya, whom I had housed. In the evening of the 
same day he gave me many particulars of his arrest, 
of his stay in the fortress, and of the questions which 
had been put to him by the Committee of Investiga- 
tion. From these questions we could gather what 
would be the indictment against Fyodor. Although 
he was charged only with some rash utterances 
against high personages and with the dissemination 
of proscribed writings, and the momentous Bielinsky 
letter, these things could, with ill-will, be given a 
very serious turn ; in that case, a grievous fate awaited 
him. True, that gradually many of those arrested 
were being set free ; but it was said that many were 
threatened with banishment. 

The summer of 1849 was a sad time for aU of us. 
I saw Michael Dostoevsky every week. The news 
about our incarcerated friends was very vague ; we 
knew only that they were all in good health. The 
investigating committee had now ended its labours, 
and we daily expected the decision. But the autumn 
went by, and not until shortly before Christmas was 
the fate of the prisoners made known. To our utter 
amazement and horror, they were all condemned to 
death. The sentence was not, however, as all the 
world knows, executed ; capital punishment was at 
the last moment altered to other penalties. Fyodor 
Dostoevsky got four years' hard labour in Siberia, and 
after completion of that sentence was to be enrolled as 
a private in one of the Siberian regiments of the line. 
All this was done so hastily and suddenly that neither 
I nor his brother could be present at the proclamation 
of the sentence on Semyonovsky Square ; we heard 
of the fate of our friends only when all was at an end, 


and they had been taken back to the Petropaulovsky 
fortress (except Petrachevsky, who was sent straight 
from the tribunal to Siberia). 

The prisoners were despatched in parties of two and 
three from the fortress to their exile. On the third 
day after the sentence, Michael Dostoevsky told me 
that his brother was to depart that very evening, and 
that he wanted to go and say good-bye to him at the 
fortress. I too wished to say good-bye to Fyodor 
Dostoevsky. We both went to the fortress, and 
appUed to Major M., whom we had known in past 
days, and through whose mediation we hoped to 
obtain permission to see the prisoners. He told us 
that it was true that Dostoevsky and Dourov were 
to be sent that very evening to Omsk. But permis- 
sion to see our friends could be got only from the 
Commandant of the fortress. 

We were conducted into a large room on the 
ground-floor of the Commandant's quarters. It was 
already late, and a lamp was burning in the room. 
We had to wait a very long tirrie, and twice heard 
the cathedral-bell of the fortress ring out the hour. 
At last the door opened, and there entered, accom- 
panied by an officer, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Dourov. 
We greeted them with a mighty shaking of hands. 

Despite the long, solitary confinement, neither had 
changed at all appreciably ; the one seemed quite as 
grave and calm, the other as cheerful and friendly, 
as before the arrest. Both already wore the travel- 
ling-clothes—sheepskins and felt boots — in which 
prisoners were dressed for transportation. The officer 
sat unobtrusively at some distance from us on a chair, 
and did not disturb our conversation. Fyodor talked 
first of all of his joy that his brother had escaped a 


similar fate to his ; then he asked with warm interest 
for Michael's family, and about all the details of his 
life. During the meeting, he several times recurred 
to that theme. Dostoevsky and Dourov spoke with 
genuine liking of the Commandant of the fortress, who 
had treated them most humanely and done all that 
was in his power to alleviate their lot. Neither the 
one nor the other complained of the stern tribunal, or 
the harsh sentence. The life which awaited them in 
prison did riot alarm them ; they could not then 
foresee the effect which the punishment was to have 
upon their health. 

When the Dostoevsky brothers took leave of one 
another, it was clear to me that not he who had to 
go to Siberia, but he who remained in Petersburg, 
suffered the more. The elder brother wept, his lips 
trembled, while Fyodor seemed calm and even con- 
soled him. 

" Don't do that, brother," he said ; " why, you 
know me. Come, you are not seeing me to my 
grave ; even in prison there dwell not beasts but 
men, and many of them are possibly better and 
worthier than I am. . . . We shall see one another 
again, I am sure of it ; I confidently hope for that, 
I have no doubt at all that we shall meet again. . . . 
Write to me in Siberia, send me books ; I'll send 
word to you from there what books I need ; I shall 
surely be allowed to read there. . . . And when 
once I have the prison behind me, I'U write regularly. 
During these months I have lived through much in 
my soul ; and think of all I shall see and live through 
in the future ! I shall truly have plenty of material 
for writing. ..." 

He gave one the impression of regarding the im- 


pending punishment as a pleasure-trip abroad, in the n 
course of which he should see beautiful scenery and 
artistic treasures, and make new acquaintances in 
perfect freedom. He never seemed to realize that 
he was to spend four years in the " House of the 
Dead," in chains, in the company of criminals ; 
perhaps he was full of the thought that he would find 
in the most fallen criminal those human traits, those 
sparks of divine fire that, though heaped over with 
ashes, still glimmer, still are unextinguished — those 
sparks which, according to his conviction, burn even 
in the most outcast of mankind, in the most hardened 
of criminals. 

This final meeting lasted over half- an -hour; 
although we spoke of many things, the time seemed 
short. The melancholy bell was sounding again 
when the Major entered, and said the interview was 
at an end. For the last time we embraced. I did 
not then imagine that I should never see Dourov 
again, and Fyodor Dostoevsky only after eight years. 






The hardest office which was assigned to us who had 
been transferred on punishment was keeping guard in 
the prison. It was the same one that Dostoevsky 
has described in his " House of the Dead." Of those 
who had been impUcated in the Petrachevsky affair, 
there were then in the prison Fyodor Michailo- 
vitch Dostoevsky and Sergey Fyodorovitch Dourov. 
Whether they had formerly been much known in 
Petersburg, we are not aware ; but during their stay 
in the prison their Petersburg friends took the 
greatest interest in them, and did everything possible 
to alleviate their lot. 

The two young men, once so elegant, made a sad 
spectacle in the prison. They wore the usual convict- 
dress : in the summer, vests of striped grey and black 
stuff with yellow badges on the back, and white caps 
with no brims ; in the winter, short sheepskins, caps 
with ear-flaps, and mittens. On their arms and legs 
were chains which clanked at every movement; so 

1 Martyanov's memoranda are based on verbal information from 
several naval cadets who, on account of participation in the move- 
ment of 1849, were degraded, and transferred to the line regiment 
at Omsk as privates. 


that they were in no way externally distinguished 
from the other prisoners. Only one thing marked 
them out from the mass: the ineffaceable signs of 
good education and training. Dostoevsky looked 
liked a strong, somewhat thickset, well-disciplined 
working-man. His hard fate had, as it were, turned 
him to stone. He seemed dull, awkward, and was 
always taciturn. On his pale, worn, ashen face, 
which was freckled with dark-red spots, one never 
saw a smile ; he opened his lips only to utter curt, 
disconnected remarks about his work. He always 
wore his cap dragged down on his forehead to his 
eyebrows ; his glance was sullen, unpropitiating, fierce, 
and mostly directed on the ground. The prisoners 
did not hke him, though they recognized his moral 
force ; they looked askance at him, but with no 
malice, and would tacitly avoid him. He perceived 
this himself, and so kept aloof from all ; only on very 
rare occasions, when he was beyond himself with 
misery, would he draw any of the prisoners into con- 
versation. Dourov, on the contrary, looked like a 
fine gentleman even in prison clothes. He was well 
grown, held his head proudly aloft, his large black 
eyes looked friendly despite their short-sightedness, 
and he smiled on all and sundry. He wore his cap 
pushed back on his neck, and even in the worst hours 
preserved an unalterably cheerful aspect. He treated 
each individual prisoner amiably and cordially, and 
all of them liked him. But he suffered much, and 
was frightfully run down — so much so that sometimes 
he could not stir a foot. And yet he remained good- 
tempered, and tried to forget his physical pain in 
laughter and joking. 
From the prison-guard was then demanded much 


care, energy, and vigilance. The guard had to escort 
the prisoners to the working-places, and also to super- 
vise them in the prison. The captain of the guard 
had to report every morning on the condition of the 
prisoners, to look after the cleanliness and discipline 
in the prison and the barrack-rooms, to make surprise- 
inspections, and prevent the smuggling-in of schnaps, 
tobacco, playing-cards, and other forbidden articles ; 
his duties, therefore, were arduous and responsible. 

The naval cadets of that period were nevertheless 
ready to assume these duties in place of the officers, 
for in that way they obtained an opportunity of 
coming continually under the notice of their superiors, 
and at the same time of alleviating, so far as was 
feasible, the hard lot of the prisoners. Most of these 
worked outside the prison at the building of the 
fortress ; but some were daily kept in to do the 
house-work. These latter came under the imme- 
diate surveillance of the guard, and would remain, 
unless they were sent to do work of some kind, either 
in the orderly-room or in their cells. In this way the 
naval cadets could always keep back any particulai: 
prisoner if they so desired. For instance, Dostoevsky 
and Dourov were often kept back for " house- work " ; 
the captains of the guard would then send for them 
to the orderly-room, where they would tell them the 
news, and give them any presents, books, or letters 
that might have come for them. We let them come 
into the orderly-room only at such times as we were 
sure that no superior officer was likely to appear; 
but, in case of accident, we always kept a soldier in 
readiness to take them back to work. General 
Borislavsky, who superintended the labours, and the 
Commandant of the fortress. General de Grave, were 


made aware of this proceeding by the physician, 
Doctor Troizky. 

According to the cadets' reports, the character of 
Dostoevsky was not attractive; he always looked 
like a wolf in a trap, and avoided all the prisoners ; 
even the humane treatment shown by his superiors, 
and their efforts to be useful to him and alleviate his 
lot, he took as an injury. He always looked gloomy, 
and amid the noise and animation of the prison held 
himself aloof from all ; only of necessity did he ever 
speak a word. When the cadets summoned him to 
the orderly-room, he would behave with much reserve ; 
he paid no heed to their suggestion that he should 
sit down and rest, answered most unwillingly the 
questions put to him, and almost never permitted him- 
self any frankness of speech. Every expression of 
sympathy he met with mistrust, as if he suspected in 
it some secret purpose. Even the books that were 
offered him he hardly ever accepted ; only in two 
cases (they were " David Copperfield " and " the Pick- 
wick Papers ") did he show any interest in the books, 
or take them to hospital with him. Doctor Troizky 
explained Dostoevsky's unsociability by the morbid 
state of his whole organism, which, as everyone 
knows, was shattered by his nervous troubles and 
epileptic fits, but outwardly he looked healthy, active, 
and vigorous ; he shared, too, in all the labours of the 
other convicts. The cadet from whom I obtained 
this description accounted for Dostoevsky's un- 
sociability by his fear that any relations with others, 
and the solicitude shown for him, might come to the 
knowledge of the authorities and injure him with 
them. Dourov, on the contrary, was universally 
liked. Despite his sickly, frail appearance, he took 


an interest in everybody, gladly entered into relation- 
ship with people outside the prison, and was cordially 
grateful for any alleviation or aid that was offered 
him. He talked, and even argued, freely upon all 
sorts of subjects, and often succeeded in carrying his 
audience with him. His open, cordial, and energetic 
character was apparent to us all, and so he was much 
better liked than Dostoevsky was. 

The cadets observed with amazement that Dos- 
toevsky and Dourov hated one another with all the 
force of their beings ; they were never seen together, 
and during their whole time in the prison at Omsk 
they never exchanged a word with one another. 
When they both happened to be in the orderly-room 
at the same time, they would sit in opposite corners 
and answer any questions they were asked with no 
more than a Yes or No. This was noticed, and they 
were thenceforth summoned separately. 

When Dourov was interrogated as to this odd 
behaviour, he answered that neither would condescend 
to address the other, because prison-life had made 
enemies of them. And Dostoevsky, though he speaks 
in his " House of the Dead " of many interesting con- 
victs who were in the prison during his time, never 
once mentions Dourov, either by his fuU name or by 
initials. And when he is obliged to refer to him, he 
does it thus : " We, that is, 1 and the other prisoner 
of noble birth who came to the prison at the same 
time as I did . . ." Or thus : " I observed with terror 
one of my prison-mates (of noble birth) who was 
visibly going out like a candle. When he came to 
the prison, he was young, handsome, and attractive ; 
he left it a broken, grey-haired, lame, and asthmatic 
creature." The head - physician. Doctor Troizky, 


showed great interest in the political prisoners. He 
often sent them word by the cadets that they might 
(one or the other of them) come to him in hospital 
for cure ; and they frequently did go to hospital for 
several weeks, and there got good food, tea, wine, and 
other such things, either from the hospital kitchen or 
the doctor's own. According to what Doctor Troizky 
told one of the cadets, Dostoevsky began his " House 
of the Dead " in hospital, with the doctor's sanction ; 
for the prisoners were not allowed writing materials 
without express permission ; the first chapters of that 
work were long in the keeping of one of the hospital 
orderlies. General Borislavsky also showed favour 
to those two, through the medium of his adjutant. 
Lieutenant Ivanov, By his permission they were put 
only to the easier labours, except when they them- 
selves desired to share the work of the other convicts. 
Among these easier labours were included painting- 
work, the turning of wheels, the burning of alabaster, 
shovelling of snow, etc. Dostoevsky even got per- 
mission to do secretarial work in the office of the 
Engineering Department ; but when Colonel Marten, 
in a report to the officer commanding the corps, 
expressed a doubt whether political offenders con- 
demned to hard labour should be employed in such a 
manner, this arrangement came to an end. 

Once when Dostoevsky had remained behind in the 
prison for " house- work," there suddenly came into 
his cell Major Krivzov (whom Dostoevsky later 
described as a " brute in human form "), to find him 
lying on his plank-bed. 

" What is the meaning of this ? Why is he not at 
his labour ?" cried the Major. 

" He is ill, sir," answered a cadet, who happened to 


have accompanied the Major in his capacity as officer 
of the guard. " He has just had an epileptic fit." 

" Nonsense ! I am aware that you indulge him too 
much. Out to the guard-room with him this instant ; 
bring the rods 1" 

While he was being dragged from his plank and 
pushed along to the guard-room, the cadet despatched 
an exempt to the Commandant with a report of the 
occurrence. General de Grave came at once to the 
guard-room and stopped the whipping ; while to 
Major Krivzov he administered a public reprimand, 
and gave orders that in no circumstances were ailing 
prisoners to be subjected to corporal punishment. 




When I lived in Petersburg before my transfer to 
Siberia, I was not acquainted with Fyodor Dostoevsky, 
though I knew his favourite brother, Michael. I went 
to see the latter before 1 left ; when I told him that 
I was going to Siberia, he begged me to take with 
me for his brother, a letter, some linen, some books, 
and fifty roubles. ApoUon Maikov also gave me a 
letter for Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

When I reached Omsk at the end of November, 
I found that Fyodor Dostoevsky was no longer there ; 
he had completed his time in prison, and had been 
sent as a private soldier to Semipalatinsk. Soon 
afterwards, I was obliged, in the course of my duty, 
to settle for quite a long time at Semipalatinsk. 

Destiny thus brought me, exactly five years after 
the scene on Semyonovsky Square, at which I had 
happened to be present and which had been so 
momentous for Dostoevsky, again into contact with 
him, and that for some years. 

On my way to Semipalatinsk I visited Omsk again. 
There I made the acquaintance of Mme. Ivanova, 

' Baron Alexander Vrangel, as a young student, was present on 
December 22, 1849, at the ceremony in Semyonovsky Square. He 
went to Siberia in 1854 as District- Attorney. 

289 19 


who had been very kind to Dostoevsky during his 
time in prison. She was the daughter of the 
Decembrist Annenkov and his wife, Praskovya 
Ivanovna, a Frenchwoman by birth, who, like many 
another of the Decembrists' wives, had followed her 
husband into exile. Mme. Ivanova's husband was 
an officer of the Gendarmerie. She was a wonder- 
fully kind and highly cultured woman, the friend of 
all unfortunate folk, but particularly of the political 
prisoners. She and her mother had made Dostoevsky's 
acquaintance first at Tobolsk, whither he had been 
brought from Petersburg in the beginning of the year 
1850. Tobolsk was then the clearing-house for all 
offenders transported from European Russia ; from 
Tobolsk they were sent to the other Siberian towns. 
Mme. Ivanova provided Dostoevsky with linen, books, 
and money while he was at Tobolsk ; at Omsk, too, 
she looked after him and alleviated his durance in 
many ways. When, in 1856, I returned to Peters- 
burg, Dostoevsky asked me to visit her, and convey 
his gratitude for all the goodness she had shown 

I must observe that the poUtical offenders of that 
time were, in most cases, much more humanely and 
cordially treated by their official superiors and by the 
gentry than in later years. In the reign of Nicholas I. 
the whole of Siberia was crammed with political 
offenders, Russians as well as Poles ; these were all 
cultured, liberal persons, absolutely sincere and con- 
vinced. But Fyodor Dostoevsky awakened quite 
peculiar sympathy. He told me himself that neither 
in the prison nor later during his military service 
was ever a hair of his head hurt by his superiors or 
by the other prisoners or soldiers ; all the newspaper 


reports that declare otherwise are pure invention. 
For it has frequently been maintained that Dos- 
toevsky's fits were brought on by the corporal 
chastisement he received ; and many appear to believe 
this legend. 

In November, 1854, then, I came to Semipalatinsk. 
On the morning after my arrival, I betook myself to 
the Military Governor, Spiridonov. He at once sent 
his adjutant to look out for rooms for me ; and 
within a few hours I had settled down in my new 
home. I inquired of the Governor how and where I 
could find Dostoevsky, and ask him to come to tea 
with me that evening. Dostoevsky was then living 
in an abode of his own (and no longer in barracks). 

At first he did not know who I was and why I had 
asked him to come ; so he was in the beginning very 
reticent. He wore a grey military cloak with a high 
red coUar and red epaulettes ; his pale, freckled face 
had a morose expression. His fair hair was closely 
shorn. He scrutinized me keenly with his intelligent 
blue- grey eyes, as if seeking to divine what sort 
of person I was. As he confessed to me later 
on, he had been almost frightened when my mes- 
senger told him that the District- Attorney wished to 
see him. But when I apologized for not having 
first visited him personally, gave him the letters, 
parcels, and messages from Petersburg, and showed 
my friendly feehng, he quickly grew cheerful and 
confidential. Afterwards he told me that on that 
first evening he had instinctively divined in me an 
intimate friend -to-be. 

While he read the letters I had brought, tears 
came into his eyes; I too was overcome by that 
mysterious sense of despair and desolation which I 


had so often felt during my long journey. As I was 
talking with Dostoevsky, a whole pile of letters from 
my relatives and friends in Petersburg was brought 
to me. I ran through the letters and suddenly begafi 
to sob ; I was at that time unusually emotional and 
greatly attached to my family. My separation from 
all who were dear to me seemed insupportable, and I 
was quite terrified of my future life. So there we 
were together, both in a desolate and lonely condition. 
... I felt so heavy-hearted that I forgot my exalted 
position as District- Attorney, and fell on the neck of 
Fyodor Michailovitch, who stood looking at me with 
mournful eyes. He comforted me, pressed my hand 
like an old friend, and we promised one another to 
meet as often as possible. Dostoevsky was, as is 
known, discharged from prison early in the year 1854, 
and sent to Semipalatinsk as a private. At first he 
lived with the other soldiers in barracks ; but soon, 
through the influence of General Ivanov, he got per- 
mission to live in a private house near the barracks, 
under the supervision of his Captain, Stepanov. He 
was under surveillance by his sergeant as well, but 
the latter left him alone, on receipt of a trifling 

The early days were the worst for him; the absolute 
isolation seemed unbearable. But gradually he came 
to know some of the ofiicers and officials, though 
there was no close intercourse. Naturally, after the 
prison, this new condition of things seemed a paradise. 
Some cultured ladies in Semipalatinsk showed him 
warm sympathy, most particularly Mme. Maria 
Dmitryevna Issayev, and the wife of his Captain, 
Stepanov. The Captain, a frightful drunkard, had 
been transferred from Petersburg to Siberia for this 


offence. His wife wrote verses, which Dostoevsky 
was called upon to read and correct. Mme. Issayev, 
after her husband's death, became, as everyone knows, 
Dostoevsky's wife. 

In my time, Semipalatinsk was something between 
a town and a village. All the houses were built of 
wood. The population was between five and six 
thousand, including the garrison and the Asiatic 
merchants. On the left bank of the river there lived 
about three thousand Circassians. There was an 
Orthodox church, seven mosques, a large caravanserai, 
a barracks, a hospital, and the Government offices. 
Of schools there was only a district one. In some 
of the shops one could buy anything, from tin- 
tacks to Parisian perfumes ; but there was no book- 
shop, for there was nobody to buy books. At the 
most, from ten to fifteen of the inhabitants subscribed 
to a newspaper ; nor was that any wonder, for at the 
time people in Siberia were interested only in cards, 
gossip, drinking-bouts, and business. Even in the 
Crimean War they took no interest, regarding it as 
an alien, non- Siberian affair. 

I subscribed to three papers : a Petersburg one, a 
German one, and the Independance Beige. Dosto- 
evsky delighted in reading the Russian and the 
French ones ; he took no particular interest in the 
German paper, for at that time he did not understand 
much German, and he always disliked the language. 

Between the Tartar and the Cossack suburbs lay 
the actual Russian town ; this region was called the 
"Fortress," although the fortress had long been 
razed ; only one great stone gate remained. In this 
region all the military lived ; here lay the battalion of 
the Line, the Horse-Artillery, here were all the 


authorities, the main guard, and the prison, which 
was under my control. Not a tree nor a shrub was 
to be seen; nothing but sand and thorny bush. Dosto- 
evsky Uved in a wretched hovel in this part of the town. 

Living was then very cheap ; a pound of meat cost 
half a kopeck, forty pounds of buckwheat groats, 
thirty kopecks. Dostoevsky used to take home from 
barracks his daily ration of cabbage-soup, groats, and 
black bread ; anything left over, he would give to his 
poor landlady. He often lunched with me and other 
acquaintances. His hovel was in the dreariest part 
of the town. It was of rough timber, crazy, warped, 
without any foundations, and with not one window 
looking on the street. 

Dostoevsky had a quite large, but very low and 
badly-lit room. The mud-walls had once been white ; 
on both sides stood broad benches. On the walls 
hung jfly-spotted picture-sheets. To the left of the 
doorway was a large stove. Behind the stove stood 
a bed, a little table, and a chest of drawers, which 
served as a dressing-table. AU this corner was 
divided from the rest of the room by a calico curtain. 
In the windows were geraniums, and curtains hung 
there which had once been red. Walls and ceiling 
were blackened by smoke, and it was so dark in the 
room that in the evenings one could scarcely read by 
the tallow candle (wax candles were then a great 
luxury, and petroleum lamps not known at all). I 
can't even imagine how Dostoevsky contrived to 
write for whole nights by such illumination. The 
lodgings had yet another great attraction: on the 
tables, walls, and bed there were always perfect flocks 
of beetles, and in summer the place swarmed with 


Every day made us greater friends. Dostoevsky 
visited me several times a day, as often as his military 
and my oflScial duties permitted; he often lunched 
with me, and particularly enjoyed an evening at my 
house, when he w^ould drink a vast quantity of tea, 
and smoke endless cigarettes. 

My intercourse vpith Dostoevsky soon attracted 
attention in the circle most concerned. I noticed 
that my letters were delayed for some days in trans- 
mission to me. My enemies, and I had not a few 
among the venal officials, often asked me ironical 
questions ahout Dostoevsky, and expressed their 
surprise at my consorting with a private. Even the 
Governor warned me, and said that he was afraid of 
the evil influence which the revolutionary Dostoevsky 
might have on one of my youth and inexperience. 

The Military Governor, Spiridonov, was an un- 
commonly pleasant, humane, and unaffected roan, 
and noted for his unusual hospitality. Being of such 
high rank, he was naturally the most important 
person in the town. I lunched with him every other 
day, and enjoyed his fullest confidence. I wanted 
him to have the opportunity of knowing Dostoevsky 
better, and begged for permission to bring the exile 
to his house. He pondered this a while, and said : 
" Well, bring him some time, but tell him that he is 
to come quite without ceremony in his uniform." 

Spiridonov very soon grew to like Dostoevsky ; he 
helped him in every way he could. After the Military 
Governor had set the example, the better famihes of 
Semipalatinsk opened their doors to Dostoevsky. 

There were no amusements of any sort in the 
town. During the two years of my stay, not a 
single musician came to the place ; the one piano 


was regarded more as a rarity than anything else. 
Once the regimental clerks got up amateur theatricals 
in the riding-school. Dostoevsky was very useful in 
giving them advice, and persuaded me to be present 
on the night. The whole town assembled in the 
riding- school. The fair sex was particularly well 
represented. This performance ended in a great 
scandal. In the pause between two acts, some regi- 
mental clerks appeared as soloists, and offered such 
indecent ditties for the company's amusement that 
the ladies took flight, though the officers, led by the 
commander of the battalion, one ByeUkov, roared 
with laughter. 

I can't remember a single dance, picnic, or organized 
excursion. Every one lived for himself. The men 
drank, ate, played cards, made scandals, and visited 
the rich Tartars of the neighbourhood ; the women 
busied themselves chiefly with gossip. 

In Semipalatinsk there were other pohtical offenders 
— Poles and whilom Hungarian officers of Russian- 
Polish origin. When Gorgey in 1848 surrendered 
with his army to Russia, Tsar Nicholas I. treated the 
officers who had been taken prisoners in the war as 
though they had been formerly his subjects, and sent 
them to Siberia. The Poles kept to themselves, and 
held no intercourse with others. The rich ones looked 
after the poor, and there prevailed in general great 
solidarity among them. Fyodor Dostoevsky did not 
Uke these Poles, and usually avoided them ; we 
became acquainted with only one, the engineer 
Hirschfeld, who often visited us, and brought a 
certain variety into our monotonous life. 

I grew fonder and fonder of Dostoevsky ; my 
house was open to him day and night. When I 


returned from duty, I often found him there already, 
having come to me from the drill-ground or the 
regimental office. He would be walking up and 
down the room with his cloak unfastened, smoking a 
pipe, and talking to himself; his head was always 
full of new ideas. I can still remember distinctly 
one such evening ; he was then occupied with 
" Uncle's Dream " and " Stepanchikovo Village." 

He was in an infectiously cheerful mood, laughing, 
telling me of his " Uncle's " adventures, singing 
operatic airs ; when my servant Adam brought in 
some amber-coloured sturgeon soup, he declared that 
he was hungry, and urged Adam to hurry up with 
the rest of the meal. He greatly liked this Adam — 
always stood up for him, and would give him money, 
which afforded my Leporello, a terrible drunkard, 
quite superfluous opportunities for " one more." 

Fyodor Dostoevsky's favourite authors were Gogol 
and Victor Hugo. When he was in a good temper 
he liked to declaim poetry, and especially Pushkin's ; 
his favourite piece was " The Banquet of Cleopatra," 
from the "Egyptian Nights." He would recite it 
with glowing eyes and ardent voice. 

I must observe that at that time I was little 
interested in literature ; I had devoted myself wholly 
to dry erudition, and this often made Dostoevsky 
angry. More than once he said to me : " Do throw 
away your professorial text-books !" He often sought 
to convince me that Siberia could have no future, 
because all the Siberian rivers run into the Arctic 

At that time Muravyov's achievements on the 
Pacific Coast were unknown to the world, and of the 
great Siberian Railway no one had so much as dared 


to dream ; such a plan would have been taken for 
the delirium of a madman. I myself could not help 
laughing when Bakunin, whose acquaintance I made 
in 1858, unfolded the idea to me. 

More and more I grew to care for Dostoevsky, 
How highly I esteemed him is evident from my 
letters to my relatives ; these I have at hand to-day. 
On April 2, 1856, I wrote from Semipalatinsk : 
" Destiny has brought me into contact with a man 
of rare intellect and disposition — the gifted young 
author Dostoevsky. I owe him much ; his words, 
counsels, and ideas will be a source of strength to me 
throughout all my life. I work daily with him ; at the 
moment we think of translating Hegel's 'Philosophy' 
and the ' Psyche ' of Carus. He is deeply religious ; 
frail of body, but endowed with iron wUl. Do try, 
my dear papa, to find out if there is any idea of an 

In a letter to one of my sisters I read : " I beg of 
you to persuade papa to find out, through Alexander 
Veimarn, whether any prisoners are to be pardoned 
on the occasion of the Coronation festivities, and 
whether one could do anything for Dostoevsky with 
Dubelt, or Prince Orlov.^ Is this remarkable man 
to languish here for ever as a private ? It would be 
too terrible. I am sorely distressed about him ; I 
love him hke a brother, and honour him Uke a 

Dostoevsky's indulgence for everyone was quite 
extraordinary. He found excuses for even the worst 
of human traits, and explained them all by defective 
education, the influence of environment, and inherited 

1 Dubelt was Chief of the Police ; Orlov of the Gendarmerie. 


"Ah, my dear Alexander Yegorovitch, God has 
made men so, once for all!" he used to say. He 
sympathized with all who were abandoned by destiny, 
with all the unhappy, ill, and poor. Everyone who 
knew him well knows of his extraordinary goodness 
of heart. How pathetic is his solicitude, for instance, 
about his brother Michael's family, about little Pasha 
Issayev, and many others besides ! 

We often spoke of politics too. Of his trial he 
did not care to talk, and I never alluded to it of 
ray own accord. All I heard from him was that 
he had never liked Petrachevsky or approved his 
plans; he had always been of opinion that there 
should be no thought of a political upheaval in 
Russia at that period, and that the idea of a 
Russian Constitution on the model of those of 
West-European States was, considering the ignor- 
ance of the great mass of the people, nothing less 
than ridiculous. 

He often thought of his comrades, Dourov, 
Plechtcheyev, and Grigoryev. He corresponded with 
none of them, though ; through my hands went only 
his letters to his brother Michael, once in a way to 
Apollon Maikov, to his Aunt Kamanina, and to 
young Yakuchkin. 

And now I must relate what I know of his epileptic 
fits. I never, thank God, saw one of them. But I 
know that they frequently recurred ; his landlady 
usually sent for me at once. After the fits he 
always felt shattered for two or three days, and his 
brain would not work. The first fits, as he declared, 
had overtaken him in Petersburg ; but the malady 
had developed in prison. At Semipalg,tinsk he would 
have one every three months. He told me that he 


could always feel the fit coming on, and always 
experienced beforehand an indescribable sense of 
well-being. After each attack he presented a woe- 
fully dejected aspect. 

Fyodor Dostoevsky led a more sociable life than I 
did ; he went particularly often to the Issayevs'. He 
would spend whole evenings at that house, and 
among other things gave lessons to the only son, 
Pasha, an intelligent boy of eight or nine. Maria 
Dmitryevna Issayev was, if I am not mistaken, the 
daughter of a schoolmaster, and had married a 
junior master. How he had come to be in Siberia 
I cannot say. Issayev suffered from pulmonary 
consumption, and was, moreover, a great drunkard. 
Otherwise he was a quiet, unpretentious person. 
Maria Dmitryevna was about thirty, an extremely 
pretty blonde of middle height, very thin, passionate, 
and exalt ee. Even then one often saw a hectic flush 
on her cheek ; some years later she died of con- 
sumption. She was well read, not unaccomphshed, 
witty and appreciative of wit, very good-hearted, 
and uncommonly vivacious and romantic. She took 
a warm interest in Fyodor Michailovitch. I do not 
think that she highly esteemed him ; it was more 
that she pitied him. Possibly she was attached to 
him also ; but in love with him she most decidedly 
never was. She knew that he had epileptic attacks, 
and that he suffered dire poverty ; she often said he 
was " a man without a future." But Fyodor MichaUo- 
vitch took her compassion and sympathy for love, 
and adored her with all the ardour of his youth. He 
would spend whole days at the Issayevs', and tried to 
induce me to go there too, but the family did not 
attract me. 




In the beginning of March, Squadron-Adjutant 
Achmatov came to Omsk (he had done the journey 
from Petersburg in ten days) with news of the 
decease of Tsar Nicholas I, The news reached us in 
Semipalatinsk on March 12. 

Rumours of the clemency and mildness of the new 
Tsar had already penetrated to Semipalatinsk. I 
went with Dostoevsky to the Requiem Mass. The 
general demeanour was grave enough, but one saw 
not a single tear ; only some old officers and soldiers 
so much as sighed. Dostoevsky now began to hope 
for a change in his fate, for an amnesty. Most of aU 
we discussed the question of whether the Crimean 
War would go on. 

In the summer I went into the country with 
Dostoevsky to the so-caUed " Kasakov Gardens." 
The place lay on the high bank of the Irtich. We 
built a bathing-box close to the bank among bush, 
underwood, and sedge, and began bathing as early as 
May. We also worked hard in the flower-garden. 
I can see Dostoevsky now, watering the young plants ; 
he would take off" his regimental cloak, and stand 
among the flower-beds in a pink cotton shirt. Round 
his neck hung a long chain of little blue glass beads — 
probably a keepsake from some fair hand. On this 
chain he carried a large bulbous silver watch. He 
was quite fascinated with gardening, and took great 
delight in it. 

The summer was extraordinarily hot. The two 
daughters of Dostoevsky's landlady in the town often 
helped us with our gardening. After some hours of 
work we would go to bathe, and then drink tea up 
above. We read newspapers, smoked, talked about 
our Petersburg friends, and abused Western Europe. 


The Crimean War still lasted, and we were both in a 
gloomy frame of mind. 

I passionately loved riding ; one day I succeeded in 
persuading Dostoevsky to try a mount, and placed 
one of the gentlest of my horses at his disposal ; for 
this was the first time in his life that he had ever been 
on horseback. Comical and awkward as he looked in 
the saddle, he soon grew to like riding, and thenceforth 
we began to take long canters over the steppes. 

Dostoevsky's love for Mme. Issayev was by no 
means cooling all this time. He went to her house 
as often as he could, and would come back in a per- 
fect ecstasy. He could not understand why I failed 
to share his enchantment. 

Once he returned in utter despair and told me that 
Issayev was to be transferred to Kusnezk, a town five 
hundred versts distant from Semipalatinsk. "And 
she is quite calm, appears to see nothing amiss with 
it. . . . Isn't that maddening ?" he said bitterly. 

Issayev was really transferred soon after that to 
Kusnezk. Dostoevsky's despair was immeasurable ; 
he nearly went out of his mind ; he regarded the 
impending good-bye to Maria Dmitryevna as a good- 
bye to life. It turned out that the Issayevs were 
heavily in debt ; when they had sold all they had in 
payment of these obligations, they had nothing left 
over for the journey. I helped them out, and at last 
they started. 

I shall never forget the leave-taking. Dostoevsky 
wept aloud like a little child. Many years afterwards, 
in a letter to me of March 31, 1865, he alluded to 
that scene. 

Dostoevsky and I decided to go part of the way 
with the Issayevs. I took him in my carriage, the 


Issayevs sat in an open diligence. Before the depar- 
ture, they all turned in to drink a glass of wine at my 
house. So as to enable Dostoevsky to have one last 
talk undisturbed with Maria Dmitryevna before she 
went, I made her husband properly drunk. On the 
way I gave him some more champagne, thus getting 
him wholly into my power — then took him into my 
carriage, where he forthwith fell asleep. Fyodor 
Michailovitch went into Maria Dmitryevna's. It was 
a wonderful clear moonlight night in May ; the air 
was filled with soft perfume. Thus we drove a long 
way. At last we were obliged to part. Those two 
embraced for the last time, and wiped the tears from 
their eyes, while I dragged the drunken and drowsy 
Issayev over to the carriage ; he at once went off 
again, and never knew in the least what had been 
done with him. Little Pasha was fast asleep too. 
The diligence set off, a cloud of dust arose, already 
we could see it no more and the sound of the little 
bells was dying away in the distance ; but Dostoevsky 
stood stark and dumb, and the tears were streaming 
down his cheeks. I went up to him, took his hand — 
he awoke from his trance and, Avithout saying a word, 
got into the carriage. We did not get back till dawn. 
Dostoevsky did not lie down and try to sleep, but 
kept walking to and fro in his room, talking to him- 
self. After that sleepless night, he went to camp for 
drill. Home again, he lay there the whole day, 
neither eating nor drinking, and smoking pipe after 

Time did its work, and Dostoevsky's morbid despair 
came to an end. He was in constant communication 
with Kusnezk, but that did not always bring him 
happiness. Fyodor Michailovitch had gloomy fore- 


bodings. Mme. Issayev, in her letters, complained 
of bitter poverty, of her own ill-health and the incur- 
able sufferings of her husband, of the joyless future 
which awaited her ; and all this sorely depressed 
Dostoevsky. He failed more and more in health, 
became morose, irritable, and looked like the shadow 
of a man. He even gave up working at " The House 
of the Dead," which he had begun with such ardour. 
Only when, on warm evenings, we lay in the grass 
and looked up to the star-sown sky, did he know 
relative well-being. Such moments had a tranquil- 
lizing effect on him. We seldom spoke of religion. 
He was at heart religious, though he rarely entered a 
church ; the popes, and especially the Siberian ones, 
he could not stand at all. Of Christ he would speak 
with moving rapture. His manner in speech was 
most peculiar. In general he did not speak loudly, 
often indeed in a whisper ; but when he grew enthu- 
iastic, his voice would become louder and more 
sonorous ; and when he was greatly excited, he would 
pour forth words, and enchain his hearers by the 
passion of his utterance. What wonderful hours I 
have passed with him ! How much I owe to my 
intercourse with that greatly gifted man ! In the 
whole of our life together there never was a single 
misunderstanding between us ; our friendship was 
untroubled by one cloud. He was ten years older, 
and much more experienced, than I. Whenever, in 
my youthful crudity, I began, terrified by the repel- 
lent environment, to lose heart, Dostoevsky would 
always tell me to take courage, would renew my 
energies by his counsel and his warm S3niipathy. 
I cherish his memory especially on account of the 
human feeling with which he inspired me. After all 


this, the reader will understand that I could not be 
an indifferent witness of the unhappy frame of mind 
into which his unfortunate relation with Mme. Issayev 
had brought him. 

I made up my mind to distract him from it in 
every way I could. On every opportunity, I brought 
him about with me, and made him known to the 
engineers of the lead and silver mines that lie near 
by. But I found it very hard to woo him from his 
mournful brooding. He had got superstitious all of 
a sudden, and would often tell me tales of somnam- 
bulists, or visit fortune-tellers ; and as I, at twenty, 
had my own romance, he took me to an old man, who 
told fortunes by beans. 

About this time I heard from Petersburg that the 
new Tsar was gracious and unusually clement, that 
people were feeling a new spirit in things, and expect- 
ing great reforms. This news had a most encouraging 
effect on Dostoevsky ; he grew more cheerful, and 
much more rarely refused the distractions that I 
offered him. 

One day there came tidings from Omsk that in 
consequence of the political tension on the southern 
border and the unrest among the Circassians, the 
Governor of Omsk was coming to Semipalatinsk, to 
review the troops ; it was said that on this occasion 
he would also review the rest of the Siberian 

So Dostoevsky, like the rest, had to prepare for the 
possible campaign in every way ; he had to get boots, 
a waterproof coat, linen, and other indispensable 
clothing — in a word, to equip himself afresh from 
head to foot ; for he possessed no clothes but those 
he had on. Again he needed money, again he racked 



his brains to think where to get it. These cursed 
money-worries never left him. From his brother 
Michael and his aunt he had just then had a small 
sum ; so he could not possibly ask them again. Such 
anxieties tormented him terribly ; and from Kusnezk 
the news grew more troubling every day. Mme. 
Issayev was dying of loneliness beside her sick and 
ever-drunken husband, and complained in aU her 
letters of isolation and want of someone to talk to. 
In her more recent letters there often occurred the 
name of a new acquaintance, an interesting young 
teacher, and colleague of her husband. In each suc- 
ceeding letter she spoke of him with more enthusiasm 
and pleasure ; she praised his kindness, his fideUty, 
and his remarkable powers of affection. Dostoevsky 
was tortured by jealousy ; and his dark mood had, 
moreover, a harmful influence on his state of health. 

I was sorely distressed about him, and resolved to 
arrange a meeting with Maria Dmitryevna at Smiyev, 
half-way between Kusnezk and Semipalatinsk. I 
hoped that an interview might put an end to the 
unhappy state of affairs. But I had set myself a 
difficult task ; how was I to take Dostoevsky from 
Semipalatinsk to Smiyev, without anybody's know- 
ledge ? The authorities would never permit him so 
long a journey. The Governor and the Colonel had 
already twice refused his applications for leave. It 
reduced itself simply to taking our chance. I wrote 
at once to Kusnezk and asked Maria Dmitryevna to 
come to Smiyev on a certain day. At the same time 
I spread a rumour in the town that Dostoevsky had 
been so run down by several violent epileptic attacks 
that he was obliged to keep his bed. I also informed 
his Colonel that he was ill, and under treatment by 


the military doctor, Lamotte. This Lamotte, how- 
ever, was our good friend, and in our confidence. He 
was a Pole, formerly a student at the University of 
VUna, and had been sent to Siberia for some political 
misdemeanour. My servants were instructed to say 
to everyone that Dostoevsky was lying iU in my 
house. The shutters were shut, " to keep the light 
from disturbing the invalid." Nobody was allowed 
to enter. Luckily for us, all the commanding 
officers were away, from the Military Governor 

Everything was in our favour. We started about 
ten o'clock at night. We drove like the wind ; but 
poor Dostoevsky thought we were going at a snail's 
pace, and conjured the coachman to drive still faster. 
We travelled all night, and reached Smiyev by morn- 
ing. How terrible was Dostoevsky's disappointment 
when we were told that Maria Dmitryevna was not 
coming ! A letter from her had arrived, in which she 
told us that her husband was worse, and moreover 
that she had no money for the journey. I can't 
attempt to convey the despair of Dostoevsky ; I had 
to rack my brains to tranquillize him in any sort of 

That same day we returned, having done the 

300 versts in twenty-eight hours. Once at home, we 

changed our clothes and instantly went to see some 

' acquaintances. So nobody ever knew anything about 

our prank. 

Our life went monotonously on ; Dostoevsky was 

mostly in dejected mood, and at times worked very 

hard ; I tried to divert him as well as I could. There 

' was no variety at aU in our way of life ; we walked 

daily to the bank of the Irtich, worked in the garden, 


bathed, drank tea, and smoked on the balcony. 
Sometimes I would sit with a rod by the water, 
while Dostoevsky lay near me on the grass and read 
aloud ; all the books I had were gone through count- 
less times in this way. Among others he read to 
me, " for my instruction," Aksakov's " Angling," and 
" A Sportsman's Sketches." There was no library 
in the town. The numerous books on zoology and 
natural science that I had brought from Petersburg, 
1 knew almost by heart. Dostoevsky preferred fine 
literature, and we eagerly devoured any new book. 
The monotony of our lives was redeemed, however, 
by the hours in which Dostoevsky 's creative inspira- 
tion came over him. In such hours, he was in so 
uplifted a state that I too was infected by it. Even 
life in Semipalatinsk seemed not so bad in those 
moments ; but alas 1 the mood always went as sud- 
denly as it had come. Every unfavourable report 
from Kusnezk brought it to an end at one blow; 
Dostoevsky instantly collapsed, and was seedy and 
wretched again. 

As I have already mentioned, he was then working 
at " The House of the Dead." I had the great good 
luck to see Dostoevsky in his inspired state, and to 
hear the first drafts of that incomparable work from 
his own lips ; even now, after all these years, I recall 
those moments with a sense of exaltation. I was 
always amazed by the superb humanity that glowed 
in Dostoevsky's soul, despite his grievous destiny, 
despite the prison, the exile, the terrible malady, and 
the eternal want of money. Not less was I astonished 
by his rare guilelessness and gentleness, which never 
left him even in his worst hours. 

[Baron Vrangel goes on to tell of the arrival of the 


Governor-General, Hasford, at Semipalatinsk, and of 
his arrogant and domineering manner.] 

I was invited to lunch with the other officials at the 
Governor's. I had known his wife in Petersburg. 
She received me very cordially, and offered me a place 
by her side. 

At table the Governor assumed quite a different 
tone, and behaved like an ordinary mortal. He 
seemed in good spirits, asked me about my acquaint- 
ances, and let fall the remark that he was well aware 
of my relations with Dostoevsky. I made up my 
mind to play upon his better temper, and win him to 
Dostoevsky's cause. Dostoevsky had shortly before 
written a poem on the death of Tsar Nicholas I. ; we 
wanted to send it through General Hasford to the 
widowed Tsarina. The poem began, if I remember 
rightly, in this way : 

" As evening-red dies in the heavens. 
So sank thy glorious spouse to rest. . ." 

To my most respectfully proffered request, Hasford 
replied with an energetic " No," and added : " I'll do 
nothing for a whilom enemy of the Government. 
But if they take him up in Petersburg of their own 
accord, I shall put no obstacle in the way." 

The poem reached the Tsarina, nevertheless, and 
that in the following way. I wrote two or three 
times to my father and my influential relations, and 
begged them to discover some means of bringing it 
to the Tsarina's notice. My endeavours were finally 
crowned with success : Prince Peter Georgyevitch 
von Oldenburg undertook to deliver the poem. The 
Prince was an impassioned musician and a bad com- 
poser ; at that time he consorted much with the 


well-known pianist, Adolf Henselt, who had to cor- 
rect his compositions. This Henselt had been for 
many years teaching music in our family. My rela- 
tives apphed to him, and he willingly acceded to our 
request. The poem really did reach the Tsarina ; 
this was told me later by a high official. Dostoevsky 
wrote yet another poem : " On the Accession of 
Alexander II." This I later gave personally to 
General Eduard Ivanovitch Totleben. 

Dostoevsky was now terribly affected by his 
malady ; often he feared for his reason. He clearly 
perceived the aim of his hfe to be literary work. But 
so long as he was in exile, he would not be allowed 
to publish his works ; in his despair he even begged 
me to let them appear under my name. That I did 
not agree to this proposal, flattering as it was for me, 
I need not say. Literature, moreover, was his only 
means of earning money. He was longing at this 
time for a personal life ; he wanted to marry, and 
hoped thereby to find "boimdless happiness." For 
many years he had suffered the direst need ; who 
knows — if Dostoevsky had not taken that step for 
which his stern critics so severely blame him, one of 
the greatest Russian writers, the pride of Russia, 
might have languished to death in the deserts of 

The projected campaign never came off. The 
Governor-General departed, and our Semipalatinsk 
society sank back into its lethargy. After their 
urgent -activities before the Governor-General, the 
soldiers needed some rest, and so Fyodor MichaUo- 
vitch had a little spare time. We settled down again 
in our " Kasakov Garden," and once more the days 
were all alike. From Kusnezk came the gloomiest 


tidings ; Dostoevsky went no more to the sooth- 
sayers, bored himself to death, was always in bad 
spirits, and took no pleasure in work. He simply did 
not know how to kill the time. Then there occurred 
to his mind a certain Marina O., the daughter of an 
exiled Pole. When he used to go to the Issayevs', 
he had interested himself in this girl at Maria 
Dmitryevna's request, and given her some lessons. 
Now he went to her father, who after some time 
declared himself willing to send her daily to Kasakov 
Gardens for instruction. Marina was then seventeen, 
and had grown into a blooming, pretty creature. 
She brought life into our house, was quite at her 
ease, laughing and romping, and coquetting with her 

I was at that time absorbed in a love-affair, and 
sought diversion from it in long journeys. I was for 
two months absent from Semipalatinsk, and in that 
time covered more than 2,000 versts. 

Dostoevsky stayed behind alone in the summer 
weather, changeable of mood, teaching Marina, work- 
mg, but not over-diligently, and keeping up a lively 
correspondence with Maria Dmitryevna ; his letters 
to her were as thick as exercise-books. 

When, before my departure, 1 saw how eagerly 
Dostoevsky was interesting himself in the girl, who 
was evidently in love with her teacher, I began to 
hope that intercourse with Marina would woo him 
from his fatal passion for Maria Dmitryevna. But 
when I came back from my trip, I heard of a real 

On my first view of Marina after my return, I was 
shocked by her aspect ; she was hollow-eyed, emaci- 
ated, and shrunken. And Dostoevsky told me that 


he had observed this alteration, but that no efforts 
had enabled him to learn from her the cause of such 
a metamorphosis. Now, however, we both set our- 
selves to question the girl, and at last she poured out 
the following story : 

The son of the Mayor of Semipalatinsk, a youth of 
eighteen, had long had an eye for the pretty maiden ; 
by the intervention of my housekeeper, he succeeded 
in making her his own ; the scoundrel stuck to her 
for a while, and then deserted her. But that was not 
the worst. The boy's coachman, a rascally old Cir- 
cassian, knew of these relations ; he had often gone 
for the girl by his master's orders, to drive her to the 
rendezvous. On one such transit, he threatened that 
he would tell of the matter to her father and step- 
mother if she did not yield herself to him. The 
terrified Marina, who had very little force of char- 
acter, consented. The coachman was now black- 
mailing her, and plundering her as he alone could ; 
she hated and feared him, and implored us to save 
her from the clutches of this scoundrel. 

The case cried to Heaven. I made use of my 
official powers, and expelled the Circassian from 

A year later, Marina was forced to marry, against 
her will, a boorish old Cossack officer, selected for 
her by her father. She hated him, and flirted as 
before with anyone she came across. The old man 
pestered her with his jealousy. Later on, when 
Dostoevsky was married, this Marina was the cause 
of quarrels and scenes of jealousy between him and 
Maria Dmitryevna ; for Marina still would flirt with 
him, and this terribly enraged Maria Dmitryevna, 
who was even then marked for death. 


When I returned from a trip to Barnaul, I found 
Dostoevsky still more broken-down, emaciated, and 
desperately depressed. He always got a little more 
cheerful in my company, but soon he was to lose 
heart altogether, for I had to tell him that I should 
be compelled to leave Semipalatinsk for ever. 

[Vrangel left Semipalatinsk "for ever" in the 
New Year of 1855.] 

The last days before my departure went by very 
quickly. By the end of December I was ready for 
the road. Dostoevsky was with me the whole day, 
and helped me to pack ; we were both very sad. 
Involuntarily 1 asked myself if I should ever see him 

After my departure he wrote me a succession of 
moving, affectionate letters, and said that he suffered 
frightfully from loneliness. In a letter of Decem- 
ber 21 he writes : " I want to talk with you as we 
used to talk when you were everything to me — friend 
and brother ; when we shared every thought of each 
other's heart. ..." Our parting grieved me bitterly. 
I was young, strong, and full of roseate hopes ; while 
he — great, God-given writer — was losing his only 
friend, and had to stay behind as a common soldier, 
sick, forsaken, desolate — in Siberia ! 

The day of my departure arrived. So soon as 
evening fell, Adam carried out my baggage ; Dosto- 
evsky and I embraced and kissed, and promised 
never to forget one another. As at our first meeting, 
both our eyes were wet. I took my seat in the 
carriage, embraced my poor friend for the last time, 
the horses started, the troika ghded away. I took a 
last look back ; Dostoevsky's tragic figure was scarcely 
to be discerned in the failing light. 


In February I came to Petersburg. And now 
began an unbroken correspondence between us. His 
fate was not even yet quite decided. I knew that 
there would be a general amnesty at the Coronation, 
but how far this would aifect those concerned in the 
Petrachevsky aflFair was as yet uncertain. Even the 
highest officials of the police could give me no in- 
formation. This uncertainty agitated Dostoevsky 
terribly. His impatience increased from hour to 
hour. He would not see that I, an insignificant little 
Siberian lawyer, could not possibly have any influence 
on the course of events, and that even my powerful 
relatives could do nothing to expedite his case. I did 
not want to pester them too incessantly, lest I should 
spoil all. But in his nervous excitement Dostoevsky 
could not understand that. I did everything that I 
at all could ; but Count Totleben was the most urgent 
of any in his cause. 

I had known Count Eduard Ivanovitch Totleben 
from my school-days ; and had often met him at the 
house of my great-uncle Manderstyerna, then Com- 
mandant of the Petropaulovsky Fortress. He had 
attended the College of Engineering at the same time 
as Dostoevsky, and his brother Adolf had even been 
intimate with the latter. Directly I arrived in 
Petersburg I looked up Totleben, told him of 
Dostoevsky's insupportable lot, and begged for his 
support. I visited his brother Adolf also. Both 
showed warm sympathy for Dostoevsky, and promised 
me to do all they could. The name of Totleben was 
then in everyone's mouth, not only in Russia, but over 
all Europe. As a private individual, he was unusually 
attractive. The high honours with which he had 
been overwhelmed, had altered his character in no wise. 


He was still the same friendly, good-humoured, and 
humane person as when I had known him before the 
war. He did much for Dostoevsky by his interces- 
sion with Prince Orlov and other powerful men in 

Dostoevsky esteemed Totleben very highly, and 
was much moved by his sympathy. In his letter to 
me of March 23, 1856, he writes : " He is through 
and through of knightly, noble, and generous nature. 
You can't at all imagine with what joy I am follow- 
ing all that such splendid fellows as you and the 
Totleben brothers are doing for me." 

But the greatest influence on Dostoevsky's fate 
was that of Prince Peter von Oldenburg. He had 
known me since my school-days. He was Proctor of 
the school, and came there nearly every day. And 
now, therefore, I was called upon again to turn to 
Adolf Henselt. I delivered to the Prince, through 
Henselt, the new poem that Dostoevsky had written 
on the Coronation. He mentions this poem in his 
letter to me of May 23, 1856 : 

"It would be, I think, clumsy to try unofficially 
for permission to publish my works, unless I offer a 
poem at the same time. Read the enclosed, then ; 
paraphrase it, and try to bring it under the monarch's 
notice in some way or other." 

I did all I could. The Prince gave the poem to 
the Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna ; whether it ever 
reached the Tsar's hands, I know not. 

At the same time Dostoevsky informed me that he 
was going to send me an article, " Letters upon Art," 
that I might deliver it to the President of the Academy, 
the Grand-Duchess Maria Nikolayevna.^ 

^ See p. 98. 


I never received that article. 

In the same letter he writes of another article, 
which he had begun while we were still together — 
one " On Russia."-' I never received that one, either. 

All Dostoevsky's thoughts were now set on one 
thing — whether, in case of his pardon, he would be 
permitted to publish his works. Not only his passion 
for literary activity, but also his great need, obliged 
him to strive for recognition in the highest quarters. 
He then required much money, and had none at all. 
He had numerous debts, and only that one hope — of 
earning something by means of the many stories and 
novels with which his brain was always fiUed. 

In January 1860 Dostoevsky at last got permission 
to settle in Petersburg. As the cMmate there was 
harmful to his wife's health, he left her behind in 
Moscow, and came alone to Petersburg. He took 
rooms in Gorochovaya Street. We saw one another 
very often, but only in flying visits, for we were both 
carried away by the whirl of Petersburg life. More- 
over I was then engaged to be married, and spent all 
my free time with my betrothed, while Dostoevsky 
was working day and night. So our short interviews 
were chiefly taken up with loving memories of the past. 

On one of our meetings we spoke of a forthcoming 
public event in Petersburg. I intended to make a 
speech "upon the liberties and rights accorded by 
the Tsarina Catherine II. to the Russian nobility." 
Dostoevsky instantly sketched a brilliant discourse 
for me ; but at the meeting I controlled myself, and 
did not deliver it.^ 

1 See p. 97. 

2 Some " emancipated " speeches were made on this occasion, for 
which the orators were afterwards punished. 


I was once present at a public reading by Dostoevsky. 
He read Gogol's "Revisor." I already knew his 
masterly art in delivery. The room was packed. 
Dostoevsky's appearance and his reading were greeted 
with thunders of applause. But I was not satisfied 
with his performance that evening; I saw that he 
was not in the right mood ; his voice sounded dead, 
and was sometimes barely audible. After the read- 
ing, he sought me out among the audience, and told 
me that he had not been in the mood ; but that the 
organizer of the evening had urged him not to 
abandon the reading, and he ncA'^er could say " No " 
to anyone. If I am not mistaken, that was his first 
reading after his return from banishment. 

When in 1865 I returned to Copenhagen from my 
summer leave, I found a despairing letter of Dos- 
toevsky's from Wiesbaden. He wrote that he had 
gambled away all his money, and was in a desperate 
situation — he had not a penny left, and creditors were 
pressing him on every side. This craze of Dos- 
toevsky's for play was somewhat surprising to me. 
In Siberia, where card-playing is so universal, he had 
never touched a card. Probably his passionate nature 
and shattered nerves needed the violent emotions 
which gambling afforded him. At all events, now 
I had to help my old friend out of his fix ; I sent 
him some money, though I had not a great deal 
myself. With it I wrote, and said that he must 
positively come to me at Copenhagen. 

He did actually come to Copenhagen on October 1, 
and stayed a week with me. He extraordinarily 
pleased my wife, and was much devoted to the two 
children. I thought him thin and altered. Our 
meeting gave us both great joy ; we refreshed old 


memories, of course, recalled the " Kasakov Gardens," 
our love affairs, etc. We spoke much of his first 
wife, Maria Dmityrevna, and of the fair Marina, of 
whom she had been so terribly jealous. 

In this intimate talk we touched almost inevitably 
on his family-life, and the strange relation (to this 
day a mystery for me) between him and his first wife. 
In one of his earlier letters, he wrote to me : " We 
were both thoroughly unhappy, but could not cease 
from loving one another ; the more wretched we 
were, the more we clung together." At the meeting 
in Copenhagen he confirmed that sajdng. I had 
never believed that Dostoevsky would find happiness 
in that marriage. Every kind of torment — the whole 
grievous burden that he fastened on himself by that 
connection — robbed him of all peace of mind for long 
and long. ... At Semipalatinsk I had often tried to 
reason him out of his morbid passion for Maria 
Dmitryevna, but he would listen to nothing. Maria 
Dmitryevna was invested with a radiant halo in his 

Among other things, he expounded his views on 
women in general, and gave me corresponding advice. 
Once, in talking of our Siberian acquaintances, I 
mentioned a frivolous and insidious lady of Semi- 
palatinsk ; Dostoevsky thereupon remarked : " We 
should be eternally grateful to a woman whom we 
have loved, for every day and hour of joy which she 
has given us. We may not demand from her that 
she think of us only all her life long; that is ugly 
egoism, which we should subdue in ourselves." 

As I have said, Dostoevsky looked very ill during 
his stay at Copenhagen ; before that, he had com- 
plained in his letters of his state of health : " Besides 


the epilepsy, I am a martyr to violent fever ; every 
night I have shivering fits and fever, and lose ground 
day by day." 

Even a perfectly sound man could not have borne 
the harassed life that Dostoevsky was then leading ! 
Eternally in want of money, anxious not only for his 
own family, but also for that of his brother Michael, 
pursued by creditors, in constant fear of being clapped 
in prison, he knew no rest day nor night ; by day he 
was running from one newspaper-office to the other, 
and by night he was writing, as he said himself, " to 
order, under the lash." Naturally all that was bound 
to have a hurtful effisct on his health as well as his 

He told me of one incident, among others, which 
will show how nervous and irritable he sometimes 
was. When in Paris, it had occurred to him to pay 
a visit to Rome. To do this, he had to have his pass- 
port signed by the Papal Nuncio in Paris. Dosto- 
evsky went twice to the Nuncio's, but on neither 
occasion found him. When he went for the third 
time, he was received by a young abb^, who asked 
him to wait a while, as Monsignor was just breakfast- 
ing, and would take his coffee first. Dostoevsky 
leaped up as though gone suddenly crazy, and cried : 
" Dites a voire Monseigneur, que je crache dans son 
caf6 — qu'il me signe mon passeport, ouje me precipiterai 
chez lui avec scandale !" The young abb^ stared at 
him in consternation ; he rushed into his chiefs apart- 
ment, came back with another abb^, and requested 
our Fyodor Michailovitch to clear out at once, and 
let the porter of his hotel come and see about the 

" Yes — I was too hot-tempered that time !" con- 


eluded Dostoevsky, with a shy smile. But evidently 
this irritabiUty long endured ; for in one of his later 
letters he writes : " I have become frightfully nervous 
and irritable ; my character gets worse every day, 
and I can't imagine what it will end in,"^ 

* He used the incident at the Nuncio's in his book, " The 




Anyuta was so delighted by her first literary success 
that she at once began another story. The hero of this 
tale was a young man who had been brought up far 
away from home in a monastery by his uncle, a monk. 
The hero, whose name was Michael, had some resem- 
blance to Alyosha in the " Brothers Karamazov." 
When I read that novel, some years afterwards, 1 was 
instantly struck by the resemblance ; I spoke of it to 
Dostoevsky, whom I very often met at that time. 

" I believe you are right I" said he, striking his 
forehead, " But I give you my word of honour that 
I never once thought of this Michael, when I created 
my Alyosha. . . . Perhaps he was unconsciously in 
my memory," he added, after a pause. 

When this second story of Anyuta's appeared in 
print, the catastrophe arrived ; a letter of Dostoevsky's 
fell into my father's hands, and there was a great fuss. 

^ Sophie Kovalevsky, the renowned mathematician, tells of the 
intercourse of Dostoevsky with her elder sister, Anna Korvui- Kova- 
levsky, who had sent him her earliest literary effort without her 
parents' knowledge. Later, not without opposition from her 
parents, she made his acquaintance. Sophie, who at that time 
was little more than a child, fell in love with Dostoevsky. This 
episode belongs to the year 1866. 



We had hardly returned to Petersburg from the 
country before Anyuta wrote to Dostoevsky asking 
him to call. And he came — on the very day she 
fixed. I can still remember with what feverish im- 
patience we awaited his arrival, and how, for a whole 
hour before he could be expected, we jumped at 
every tingle of the bell. But this first visit of Dosto- 
evsky's was a complete failure. 

Our father had a grea,t prejudice against all literary 
men. It is true that he allowed my sister to make 
acquaintance with Dostoevsky, but it was not with- 
out secret anxiety. When we were going back to 
town (he stayed in the country), he said, on parting, 
to my mother : 

" Do reflect, Lisa, on the great responsibility you 
are undertaking. Dostoevsky does not belong to our 
circles. What do we know of him, after all ? Only 
that he is a journalist, and has been in prison. A 
nice recommendation ! We shall have to be very 
cautious about him." 

Father especially enjoined on mother that she 
should never leave Anyuta a moment alone with 
Dostoevsky. I begged for permission to be present 
at this first meeting. Our two old German aunts 
came into the room every minute on one pretext or 
another, and stared at our guest as if he were some 
strange animal ; finally they both sat down on the 
sofa and stayed there till he went. 

Anyuta was furious that her first meeting with 
Dostoevsky, on which she had set such high hopes, 
should be taking place in such circumstances ; she 
looked cross, and would not speak. Dostoevsky too 
was very uncomfortable in the presence of the two 
old ladies. It was clear that he was sharply annoyed. 


He looked ill and old that day, as he always did when 
he was in a bad temper. He pulled nervously at his 
short blond beard, bit his moustache, and made 
dreadful faces. 

Mama did her very best to get up an interesting 
conversation. With the friendliest conventional smile 
on her lips, but evidently in the greatest perplexity, 
she tried to say all sorts of pleasant and flattering 
things to him, and to ask him intelligent questions. 

Dostoevsky answered monosyllabically and dis- 
courteously. At last Mama was au bout de ses 
ressources, and said no more. Dostoevsky sat with us 
half-an-hour ; then he took his hat, bowed hastily and 
awkwardly to us all, but shook hands with none of us 
—and went. 

As soon as he was gone, Anyuta ran to her room, 
threw herself on the bed, and began to cry. " You 
always spoU everything !" she said, over and over 

Yet, some days later, Dostoevsky reappeared, and 
his visit this time was very opportune, for Mama and 
the aunts were out, and only my sister and 1 at home. 
He thawed at once. He took Anyuta by the hand, 
sat down beside her on the divan, and instantly they 
began to talk as if they were two old friends. The 
conversation did not, as on his first visit, drag itself 
with difficulty from one uninteresting theme to 
another. Anyuta and he had to make the best use 
of their time, and say as much as they possibly could 
to one another, so on they gabbled, joked, and 

I was sitting in the same room, but taking no part 
in their conversation; I stared unwinkingly at Dos- 
toevsky, and devoured every single word he said. 


This time he looked different from what he had at his 
first visit — young, frank, clever, and attractive. 
" Can he really be forty-three years old ?" thought I. 
" Can he really be three-and-a-half times as old as I 
am, and twice as old as Anyuta ? They say he's a 
great writer, and yet one can talk to him like a 
chum !" And all at once he seemed to me such 
a dear. Three hours went by in no time. Suddenly 
there was a noise in the ante-room : Mama had come 
back from town. She did not know that Dostoevsky 
was there, and came in with her hat on, laden with 

When she saw Dostoevsky with us, she was sur- 
prised and a Uttle alarmed. " What would my 
husband say ?" was probably her first thought. We 
rushed to meet her, and when she saw we were in 
such high spirits, she thawed in her turn, and asked 
Dostoevsky to stay for lunch. 

From that day forward he came to our house as a 
friend. As our stay in Petersburg was not to be 
very long, he came frequently, say three or four times 
in the week. 

It was particularly agreeable when he came on 
evenings when we had no other visitors. On such 
occasions he was remarkably vivacious and interesting. 
Fyodor Michailovitch did not like general conversa- 
tion ; he could only talk as a monologuist, and even 
then only when all those present were sympathetic 
to him, and prepared to listen with eager attention. 
When this condition was fulfilled, he talked most 
beautifully — eloquent and convincing as no one else 
could be. 

Often he told us the story of the novels he was 
planning, often episodes and scenes of his own life. 


I can still remember clearly how, for example, he 
described the moment when he, condemned to death, 
stood with eyes blindfolded before the company of 
soldiers, and waited for the word " Fire !" and how 
instead there came the beating of drums, and they 
heard that they were pardoned. 

Dostoevsky was often very realistic in his conversa- 
tion, and quite forgot that young girls were listening, 
I suppose. Our mother used sometimes to be terrified. 
In this way he once told us a scene out of a novel he 
had planned in his youth. The hero was a landed 
proprietor of middle age, highly educated and refined ; 
he often went abroad, read deep books, and bought 
pictures and engravings. In his youth he had been 
very wild indeed, but had grown more staid with 
years ; by this time he had a wife and children, and 
was universally respected. Well, one morning he 
wakes very early ; the sun is shining into his bed- 
room ; everything about him is very dainty, pretty, 
and comfortable. He is penetrated with a sense of 
well-being. Thorough sybarite that he is, he takes 
care not to awake completely, so as not to destroy 
this delightful state of almost vegetable feUcity. On 
the boundary between sleep and waking, he enjoys in 
spirit a series of agreeable impressions from his latest 
trip abroad. He thinks of the wonderful light on the 
naked shoulders of a St. Cecilia in one of the galleries. 
Then some fine passages from a book called " Of the 
Beauty and Harmony of the Universe" come into 
his mind. But in the midst of these pleasant dreams 
and sensations he suddenly becomes aware of a 
peculiar feeling of discomfort, such as that from an 
internal ache or a mysterious disturbance. Very 
much like what a man experiences who has an old 


wound, from which the bullet has not been extracted ; 
in the same way, he has been feeling perfectly at ease 
when suddenly the old wound begins to smart. And 
now our landed proprietor speculates on what this 
may portend. He has no ailment, he knows of no 
trouble, yet here he is, utterly wretched. But there 
must be something to account for it, and he urges 
his consciousness to the utmost. . . . And suddenly 
it does come to him, and he experiences it all as 
vividly, as tangibly — and with what horror in every 
atom of his being I — as if it had happened yesterday 
instead of twenty years ago. Yet for all that twenty 
years it has not once troubled him. 

What he remembers is how once, after a night of 
debauchery, egged on by drunken companions, he 
had forced a little girl of ten years old. 

When Dostoevsky uttered those words, my mother 
flung her hands above her head, and cried out in 
terror : " Fyodor Michailovitch ! For pity's sake I 
The children are listening !" 

At that time 1 had no idea what Dostoevsky was 
talking about, but from my mother's horror I con- 
cluded that it must be something frightful. 

Mama and Dostoevsky became good friends, all the 
same. She was very fond of him, though he gave 
her rpuch to bear. 

Before we left Petersburg Mama decided to have 
a farewell evening-party, and invite all our acquaint- 
ances. Of course, Dostoevsky was asked. At first 
he refused, but unluckily Mama succeeded in per- 
suading him to come. 

The evening was unusually duU. The guests took 
not the slightest interest in one another ; but as weU- 
bred people, for whom such dull evenings form, an 


essential part of existence, they bore their tedium 

One can easily divine how poor Dostoevsky felt in 
such company I In his personaUty and appearance 
he was frightfully alien to everybody else. He had 
gone so far in self-immolation as to put on a dress- 
coat ; and this dress- coat, which fitted very badly 
and made him uncomfortable, ruined his temper for 
the whole evening. Like all neurotic people, he was 
very shy in the company of strangers, and it was 
clear that his ill-temper was to be displayed on the 
earliest possible opportunity. 

My mother hastened to present him to the other 
^ests ; instead of a courteous acknowledgment, he 
muttered something inarticulate, and turned his back 
at once. But the worst was that he monopolized 
Anyuta from the very beginning. He withdrew 
with her into a comer of the room, plainly intending to 
keep her there all the time. That was, of course, con- 
trary to all etiquette ; and he behaved to her, more- 
over, with anything but drawing-room manners — 
.holding her hand and whispering in her ear. Anyuta 
was much embarrassed, and Mama was vexed to 
death. At first she tried to convey to him delicately 
how unsuitable his conduct was. She passed the 
couple as if by chance, and called my sister, as if to 
send her into the other room on some message. 
Anyuta tried to get up and go, but Dostoevsky coolly 
held her back, and said : " No, wait — I haven't finished 
yet." But with that my mother's patience came to 
an end. 

" Excuse me, Fyodor Michailovitch ; she must, as 
daughter of the house, attend to the other guests," 
said she indignantly, leading my sister away with her. 


Dostoevsky was furious ; he stayed silently sitting 
in his corner, and casting malignant looks on every 

Among the guests was one who displeased him 
extraordinarily from the first moment. This was a 
distant relative of ours, a young German, an oflRcer 
in one of the Guards' regiments. 

Handsome, taU, and self-satisfied, this personage 
excited his hostility. The young man was sitting, 
effectively posed, in a comfortable chair, and display- 
ing his slender ankles, clad in close-fitting silk socks. 
He bent gaily towards my sister, and evidently said 
something very funny to her. Anyuta, who had not 
yet recovered from the scene between Dostoevsky and 
my mother, heard him with a somewhat stereotyped 
smile — " the smile of a gentle angel," as our English 
governess laughingly described it. 

As Dostoevsky watched the pair, a veritable 
romance formed itself in his brain : Anyuta hates 
and scorns the German, self-satisfied fop that he is, 
but her parents mean to marry her to him. The 
whole party has of course been got up to this end 
alone ! 

He believed at once in this hypothesis, and got 
into a fury. That winter, people were talking much 
of a book by an English clergyman : " Parallels 
between Protestantism and [Greek] Orthodoxy." 
In our Russo-German circle it was exciting great 
interest, and the conversation grew more animated as 
soon as this book was mentioned. Mama, who was 
herself a Protestant, remarked that Protestantism 
had one advantage over Orthodoxy, and that was that 
Protestants were more conversant with the Bible. 

" And was the Bible written for fashionable ladies V 


Dostoevsky suddenly broke out, having sat stubbornly 
silent till now. " For in the Bible it is written, among 
other things : 'And God made them male and female.' 
And again : ' Therefore shall a woman forsake her 
father and mother, and shall cleave unto her husband.' 
That was Christ's conception of marriage ! What 
have our mothers to say to it, they who think only of 
how they may get rid of their daughters to the best 
advantage ?" 

Dostoevsky said these words with uncommon 
pathos. The effect was stupendous. All our well- 
bred Germans were confounded, and stared with all 
their eyes. Not for some moments did they reahze 
how unsuitable Dostoevsky's speech had been, and 
then they all began to talk at once, so as to obliterate 
the unfortunate impression. 

Dostoevsky cast another malignant look on all, 
retired to his comer, and spoke not a word for the 
rest of the evening. 

When he came next day. Mama tried by a cool 
reception to give him to understand that she felt her- 
self to be offended. But in her great good-nature she 
never could long be angry with anyone, and so they 
soon became friends again. 

But, on the other hand, the relations between 
Dostoevsky and Anyiita were completely altered 
from that evening. He lost all influence over her, at 
that one blow ; she now continually took it into 
her head to contradict and tease him. He showed, 
on his side, great irritation and intolerance; he 
would demand an account from her of every day 
on which he had not been with us, and displayed 
much hostility to everybody whom she at all hked. 
He did not visit us less frequently, indeed he came 


oftener even than before, and stayed longer every 
time, though he never ceased quarreUing with my 
sister during his whole visit. 

In the beginning of their intimacy, Anyuta used 
to refuse many invitations and gaieties if she knew 
Dostoevsky was coming on those diays. Now that, 
too, was quite changed^ When he came to us on an 
evening when we had other visitors, Anyuta calmly 
devoted herself to the other guests. And if she were 
invited anywhere on one of " his " evenings, she would 
write and put him off. 

The next day, Dostoevsky was always in a bad 
temper. Anyuta would pretend not to notice, and 
take a piece of sewing. This would make him worse ; 
he would go into a corner and sit silent. My sister 
would say nothing either. 

" Do stop sewing !" says Dostoevsky at last, and 
takes her work away from her. 

My sister crosses her arms on her breast, and says 
not a word. 

" Where were you last night ?" asks Dostoevsky 

" At a ball," says my sister carelessly. 

" And did you dance ?" 

" Naturally." 

" With your cousin ?" 

" With him and others." 

" And that amuses you ?" Dostoevsky further 

Anyuta shrugs. 

" For want of anything better, it does," she answers, 
and begins to sew again. 

Dostoevsky regards her in silence for some 

IN LOVE 331 

"You are a shallow, silly creature," he suddenly 

That was the tone of most of their conversations. 
They had their bitterest quarrels when the subject of 
NihiHsm came up. The debates on this theme would 
often last till late into the night ; and each would 
express far extremer views than either held. 

" The whole younger generation is stupid and un- 
culturedi I" Dostoevsky was wont to say. " A pair of 
country boots is more precious to them than the whole 
of Pushkin." 

" Pushkin is out-of-date," my sister would calmly 
maintain. She knew that nothing put him out 
so thoroughly as a disrespectful remark about 

Dostoevsky would often spring up in a rage, seize 
his hat, and depart with a solemn asseveration that he 
did not want to have anything more to do with a 
Nihilist, and would never again cross our threshold. 
But next evening he would come again, as if nothing 
had happened. 

The more strained became the relations between 
Dostoevsky and my sister, the more friendly did I 
grow with him. I was more fascinated by him every 
day, and more subject to his influence. Of course he 
could see how I adored him, and he evidently liked 
it. He often told my sister that she should take 
example by me. 

When Dostoevsky uttered some profound idea or 
some clever paradox, my sister frequently chose to 
pretend that she did not understand him ; I would be 
quite carried away, while she, to torment him, would 
make some insipid rejoinder. 

" You are a poor, insignificant thing 1" Dostoevsky 


would then exclaim. " How different your sister is ! 
She is still a child, but how wonderfully she under- 
stands me ! Hers is a delicate, sensitive soul !" 

I would get crimson all over with dehght ; I would 
gladly have let myself be cut in pieces to show how 
well I understood him. In the depths of my soul 
I was well pleased with this change in the relation of 
Dostoevsky to my sister ; but I was ashamed of the 
feeling. I accused myself of treachery to my sister, 
and took great pains to make up for my secret sin by 
being very nice to her. But despite all pangs of con- 
science, I was always glad of every fresh quarrel 
between Dostoevsky and Anyuta. He called me 
his friend, and I, in my simphcity, believed that 
I was really dearer to him than my sister, and under- 
stood him better. Even my looks he praised to the 
detriment of hers. 

[Finally Dostoevsky made a proposal of marriage 
to the elder sister, but it was not accepted.] 

Dostoevsky came once more, to take leave. He 
stayed only a short time, but was simple and friendly 
in his manner to Anyuta ; they promised to write to 
one another. He said good-bye to me very tenderly. 
He even kissed me, but had no idea, I am sure, of the 
feelings that he had awakened in me. 

After about six months, Dostoevsky wrote to my 
sister to say that he had learned to know and love 
a wonderful girl, who had consented to marry him. 
This girl, Anna Grigorevna Snitkin, became later his 
second wife. " My word of honour : if anyone had 
prophesied this to me half a year ago, I should not 
have believed it 1" remarks Dostoevsky naively at the 
end of this letter. 


Dostoevsky in the Judgment 
of his Contemporaries 


B. P. Pobyedonoszev^ to I. S. Aksakov 

" January m, 1881. 

" My DEAR Friend Ivan Sergeyevitch ! 

" When you wrote to me that you felt so sick 
at heart, you as yet knew nothing of Dostoevsky 's 
death. But I stand by his bier, and my heart is 
doubly sick. I knew this man well. I had reserved 
for him my Saturday evenings, and he often came to 
talk alone with me. I even furnished him with many 
hints for his ' Zosima ' ;^ we talked of that often and 
intimately. The time when he was editing Grajdanin 
was that of our intimacy. I pitied him in his desperate 
state, and worked together with him through a whole 
summer ; in such a way we quickly made friends. In 
these times, he was the very man for our cause. He 
cannot be replaced, for he stood entirely alone. ..." 

' Pobyedonoszev, the famous Head Procurator of the Holy 
Synodj had a great influence on the conservative side in Russian 
poUtics of the years from 1881 to 1904. His correspondence with 
the Slavophil^ Ivan Aksakov^ is from the point of view of both very 
remarkable ; they saw in Dostoevsky their companion in battle 
against the reforms and revolutionary tendencies of the 'eighties. 

* In "The Brothers Karamazov." 



/. S. Aksakov to R. P. Pobyedonoszev 

" Moscow, 

"February, 1881. 

" The death of Dostoevsky is a real chastisement 
from God. Now for the first time it is fuUy felt what 
value he had as a teacher of the younger generation. 
Even those who did not know him personally must 
perceive it. Those noble ideals which many a youth 
cherishes unconsciously in his soul, found in him an 
upholder. For 'injured and insulted' is, in very 
truth, only the religious and moral sense of the 
Russian intelligence. . . ." 



Letter to Slutchevsky of December 26, 1861 

" My Bazarov, or to speak more precisely, my 
intentions, only two men have comprehended : 
Dostoevsky and Botkin." 

Letter to Dostoevsky of December 26, 1861 

" I am reading with great enjoyment your ' House 
of the Dead,' The description of the hath is worthy 
of a Dante ; in several figures (for example, in Petrov) 
there are many most authentic psychological subtleties. 
I am truly rejoiced at the success of your journal, and 
repeat that I shall always be glad to give it a helping 



Letter to Polonsky of April 24, 1871 

" I am told that Dostoevsky has immortalized me 
in his novel ;^ I don't mind, if he hkes to do that sort 
of thing. ..." 

[Turgenev goes on to tell of his meeting with 
Dostoevsky at Baden-Baden,^ and says more than 
once that he considers Dostoevsky to be mad.j 

Letter to Mme. Milyutin of December 3, 1872 

" My dear Maria Aggeyevna, 

" 1 thank you from my heart for the friendly 
feelings which dictated your last letter. I was not in 
the least surprised by Dostoevsky's proceeding : he 
began to hate me when we were both young and at 
the commencement of our Uterary activities, although 
I did nothing to call forth that hatred. But un- 
reasoned passions are, it is said, the strongest and 
most persistent of all. Dostoevsky has permitted 
himself something worse than a parody : he has 
shown me, under the mask of Karmasinov, as a 
secret partisan of Netchayev. It is worthy of remark 
that he selected for this parody the only story which 
I published in the journal at one time conducted by 
him — a story for which he overwhelmed me in his 
letters with thanks and praise. I still have his letters. 
It would certainly be rather amusing to make them 
public now. But he knows that I shall never do so. 
I am sorry that he should use his undoubtedly great 
talent for the satisfaction of such unlovely feelings ; 
evidently he does not himself prize his gifts very 
highly, since he degrades them to a pamphlet." 

* As Karmasinov in " The Possessed." 

^ See Dostoevsky's letter to Maikov of August l6, 1867. 


Letter to Saltykov of November 25, 1875 

" The theme of Goncourt's novel is very daring. 
As he says himself, the book is the fruit of a close 
scientific study of the life of prostitutes. But at all 
events, it's something very different from Dostoevskjr's 
' Hobbledehoy.' I glanced at that chaos in the last 
number of the Otetschestvennia Zapiski ; my God, 
what a welter of hospital stinks ! What a vain and 
incomprehensible stuttering ; what a psychological 
rubbish-heap ! . . ." 

Letter to Saltykov of September 24, 1882 

" I also read Michailovsky's article on Dostoevsky. 
He has rightly divined the characteristic mark of 
Dostoevsky's creative work. In French Uterature, 
too, there was a like case — namely, the famous 
Marquis de Sade. This latter depicts in his 
' Tourments et Supphces ' the sensual pleasure 
afforded by the infliction of refined tortures. And 
Dostoevsky, in one of his books, enlarges on the same 
sort of delights. . . . And when one thinks that all 
the Russian Bishops said masses for the soul of this 
Marquis de Sade, and even preached sermons about 
his great love for all mankind ! Truly, we live in 
a remarkable age." 


Leo Tolstoy on Dostoevsky 
From Tolstoy's Letters to A. N. Strachov 

" September 26, 1880. 

" Lately I was ill, and read Dostoevsky's ' House 
of the Dead.' I have read much, and forgotten 
much; but I do not know in all modern literature, 


Pushkin included, any better book. Not the manner, 
but the point of view, is what is so remarkable ; it is 
so frank, natural, and Christ-like. A fine, edifying 
book. Yesterday, when 1 read it, I knew such 
pleasure as I have not had for a long time. If 
you see Dostoevsky, tell him that I love him." 

At the beginning of 1881 : 

" I wish I had the power to say all that I think of 
Dostoevsky ! When you inscribed your thoughts, 
you partly expressed mine. I never saw the man, 
had no sort of direct relations with him ; but when 
he died, I suddenly realized that he had been to me 
the most precious, the dearest, and the most necessary 
of beings. It never even entered my head to compare 
myself with him. Everything that he wrote (I mean 
only the good, the true things) was such that the 
more he did like that, the more I rejoiced. Artistic 
accomplishment and intellect can arouse my envy ; 
but a work from the heart— only joy. I always 
regarded him as my friend, and reckoned most con- 
fidently on seeing him at some time. And suddenly 
I read that he is dead. At first I was utterly con- 
founded, and when later I realized how I had valued 
him, I began to weep — I am weeping even now. 
Only a few days before his death, I had read with 
emotion and dehght his ' Injury and Insult.'" 




AcHMATOv, Squadron-Adjutant, 801 
Adam, a servant, 297, 313 
AksakoY, Ivan Sergeyevitch, 252, 

308, 333, 334 ; letter to, 255 
Alexander II., the Tsar, 97, 310 
Altsohevsky, Mme. Ch. D., letter 

to, 222 
"Andrey Kolossov" (Turgenev's), 

" Andromaque," 14 
Annenkov, 251 
Anuenkov, Mme. Praskovya Yego- 

rovna, letter to, 80 
Art, the consolations of, 248 
" Atala " 23 
•'Atheism.'' See "The Brothers 

Earamazov " 

Baohirev, Alexey IvanoTitch, 80, 83 

Baden-Baden, 118 

Balzac, 4, 264 

Beketov XL, 38, 42, 262 

B^ranger, 20 

Berechetzky, 262 

BeresoTsky's attempt on the life of 

Alexander II., 117 
Bernard, Claude, 231 
Bernardsky, 40 
Bestuchev, Alexander, 268 
Bible, the, 50, 51, 233, 328 
Bielinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevitch, 

26, 27, 30, 31 32, 34, 37, 41, 122, 

150, 157, 165, 191, 216, 218, 219, 

221, 264, 268, 269, 277 
"Bielkin, Tales of," 189, 221 
Blagonravov, Dr. A. F., letter to, 

Boborykin, Pyotr, 108 
Booh -Lovers Library, the, 108, 

" Boris Godounov," 216 
Borislavsky, General, 284, 287 
Botkin, 834 

"Brothers Karamazov, The" (at 
first called "Atheism"), 157, 
163, 171, 185, 187, 190, 196, 250, 
252, 256, 321, 333 

Bulgarin, Faddey, 28 

Butaohevitoh-Petrachevsky, M. V., 
68, 273, 277, 299, 314 

Byeliohov, a friend of Dostoevsky's 

Byron, Lord, 8, 13 

Cabet, 275 

" Carriage " (Gogol's), 221 

Carus, the " Psyche » of, 298 

Cellini, Benvenuto, 101 

Censorship of books, the Bussian, 
19, 26, 38, 271 

Chains, Dostoevsky's first experi- 
ence of, 56 

Chateaubriand, 9, 23 

Children, the upbringing of, 235 

Chomyakov, 216 

" Cinna," 15 

Circassian, a young, 65 

"Cl^opatre" (JodeUe's), 15 

Commissions, 185 

Conditions of working, 183 

Constantine, Mme. V. D., letter to, 

Corneille, 14, 15 

Creed, Dostoevsky's, 71, 257, 258, 

" Crime and Punishment," 100, 111, 
170, 183, 223 

"Cromwell" (Hugo's), 5 

Danilevsky's articles on "Bussia 

and Europe," 156, 172, 174 
" David Copperfield," 285 
" Dead Souls," 35, 40, 100, 192, 221 
Deism, 121 
Dershavin, 14, 274 




" Diary of a Writer, The," 129, 222, 

227, 229, 251, 263, 255, 256, 266 
Dickens, Charles, 142, 254 285 
Dobrolyubov, 215 
" Don Quixote," 142, 254 
Dostoevsky, Andrey, 48, 52 
Dostoevsky, Anna G-rigorovna, 115, 

118, 119, 126, 135, 137, 139, 143, 

144, 147, 154, 178, 181, 193, 196, 

199, 202, 332 
Dostoevsky, Emilia Fyodorovna, 22, 

32, 44, 52, 56, 125, 154, 173 
Dostoevsky, Fedya, 136, 139, 144, 

Dostoevsky, Kolya, 66 
Dostoevsky, Lyufaa, 193, 201 
"Dostoevsky, Maria Dmitryevna, 87, 

292, 293, 300, 302, 306, 307, 311, 

Dostoevsky, Michael Andreyevitch, 

5, 9 ; letter to, 1 
Dostoevsky, Michael Michailovitch, 

261, 272, 277, 278, 280, 289; 

letters to, 3, 5, 10, 16, 18, 23, 25, 

29, 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 42, 45, 46, 

49, 51, 53, 99, 102 
Dostoevsky, Sacha, 66 
Dostoevsky, Sonia, 147, 148 
" Double, The " (" GoUadkin "), 26, 

29, 32, 33, 34, 36, 40, 45 
Dourov, Sergey Fyodorovitoh, 53, 

54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 81, 82, 272, 273, 

277, 279, 280, 281, 282, 284, 285, 

Dresden, 116, 179, 193 
Drushinin, 68 
Dubelt, Chief of Police, 298 
Dumas, 45, 265 

"Egyptian Nights, The," 297 
Emancipation of the Slavs, the, 85, 

151, 166, 174, 216 
Epoch, The, 152, 261 
Equitable tribunals, 117 
" Eternal Widow, The," 184 
" Eugene Onegin," 221 
" Eugenie Grandet," 17, 264, 265 
"Execution of Tropmann, The," 

Exile, the emotions of an, 114 

Family life in Eussia, 223 

" Fathers and Sons," 169, 334 

"Faust" (Goethe's), 5 

Filippov, 67, 277 

Florence, 160, 176 

Fonvisin, Mme. N. D., letter to, 69 

Food, prison, 61 

Fourier, 275 

France, 206, 212 

Fran9ois Xavier, St., 163 

French ideas, 86 

French language, the, 139, 140 

" Gambler, The," 109, 320 
Gambling instinct, Dostoevsky's, 

106, 119, 317 
Garibaldi, 130 
Gayevsky, 252 
Geneva, 127. 131, 137, 144 
George Sand, 29, 89 
Gerassimov, Mile., letter to, 229 
Germans, the, 116, 117, 123, 207, 

"Gil Bias," 254 
Goethe, 5, 255 
Gogol, 15, 16, 18, 20, 23, 33, 34, 35, 

100, 101, 165, 192, 221, 254, 268, 

269, 270, 277, 297, 317 
"Goliadkin" ("The Double"), 26, 

29, 32, 33, 34, 36, 40, 45 
Golovinsky, 68 
Golubov, 191 
Gontscharov, Ivan Alexandrovitch, 

38, 102, 120, 183, 205, 223, 224, 

Gorgey, 296 

Granovsky, 186, 188, 191, 219 
Grave, General de, 284, 288 
Grigorovitch, Dmitri Vassilivitch, 

27, 29, 38, 39, 108 n. 
Grigoryev, 68, 165, 220, 221, 299 
Grischin, a friend of Dostoevsky's, 

" Gu6pes " (Alphonse Karr's), 29 
Guizot, 64 
" Guy Mannering," 24 

Hamlet, 4 

Hasford, the Governor-General of 

Siberia, 97, 305, 309 
Hegel's " History of Philosophy," 

67, 298 
Henselt, Adolf, 310 
" Hernani," 5 
Herzen (Iskander), 38, 121, 132, 

188, 216, 277 
Hirschfeld, a PoUsh prisoner, 296 
" Historical fatalism," 165 
" Hobbledehoy, The," 336 
Hoffiuann, the works of, 4, 5, 11, 

262, 268 
Homer, 11, 13 
" House of Gentlefolk, A," 102, 103 



"House of the Dead, The," 84, 
110, 281, 282, 286, 287, 304, 308, 

Hugo, Victor, 5, 9, 18, 217, 223, 
274,297 . . . . 

Humboldt, 231 

"Idiot, The," 136, 142, 146, 153, 

160, 161, 166, 170, 195, 199 
Idleness, Dostoevsky's dread of, 3 
Iliad, Homer's, 13 
" Illusions perdues," 31 
Illustration (Eukolnik's paper), 29, 


Immortality, 234 

Imprisonment, 46, 277 

" Injury and Insult," 104, 337 

Inspiration, 7 

InvaUde, The, 22 

" Iphig^nie, 14 

Issayev, Alexander Ivanovitch, 73, 

75, 79, 80 
Issayev, Mme., letter to, 73. See 

Dostoeysky, Maria Dmitryevna 
Issayev, Pasha, 106, 125, 138, 144, 

154, 303 ; letters to, 133, 145 
Ivanov, Alexander Pavlovitch, 141, 

287, 290, 292 
Ivanov, Constantino Ivanovitch, 63, 

Ivanov, Olga Ivanovna, 81, 82, 289, 

Ivanov, Vera and Alexander, letters 

to, 135, 193 

JeanValjean(in"Le8 Mis^rables"), 

Jerusalem, a projected book on, 200 
Jews and Armenians, 243 
Jodelle, 15 
"Juif Errant" (Sue's), 25 

Eachelyov, editor of the Boussky 

Slovo, 103 
Kaohpirev, 156, 181, 184 
Kalinovitoh, a character in a novel 

by Pissemsky, 101, 102 
Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason," 

Earamsin, 254 
Earr, Alphonse, 29 
EasaJiov Gardens, the, at Semi- 

palatinsk, 301, 310 
"Eater Murr" (Hoftoann's), 4, 

Katkov, 98, 99, 103, 112, 148, 149, 

162, 170, 173, 183, 204, 252 

Eazan Cathedral, the demonstra- 
tion before, 243 
Kelsiyev, V., 132, 133 
" Eing, The," 45 
Eireyevsky, 216 
Koran, the, 67 

Eorvin-Eovalevsky, Anna, 321 
Kostomarov, 254 
Krayevsky, 27, 30, 31, 35, 37, 38, 

40, 41, 56, 68, 164 
Krestovsky, Vsevolod, 68, 105 
Krivzov, Major, 59, 287, 288 
Kroneberg, 27 

Kukolnik, 29 

Lamansky, Porfiry, 272 

Lamennais, 276 

Lamotte, a doctor, 307 

" Landed-Proprietor's Literature," 

" Letters on Art," 98 
"Life- Story of a Great Sinner." 

See " The Brothers Karamazov " 
" Little Hero, The," 69 
Lomonossev, 189 
London " drunks," 131 
Loov, 68 

" Lucretia Floriani," 45 
Lyubimov, editor of the Boussky 

Viestnik, 111, 112, 170 

Mader, a friend of Dostoevsky's, 

Maikov, Apollon Nikolayevitch, 39, 

41, 98, 105, 134, 162, 184, 289, 
299 ; fetters to, 83, 113, 131, 147, 
148, 150, 156, 181, 183, 190, 210, 
211, 213 

Malherbe, 15 

Maria Nikolayevna, the Grand 

Duchess, 98, 315 
Marlinsky (Alexander Bestuohev), 

Marten, Colonel, 287 
Maturin, 262 
" Memoirs of aMadman" (Gogol's), 

35, 106, 270 
MichaJlovsky's article on Dosto- 

evsky, 336 
Milan, 137, 154 
Military Academy, conditions of 

life in the, 2 
Milyukov, A. P., letter to, 111 
Milyutin, Mme., Turgenev's letter 

to, 335 
Minin, a national hero, 244 



" Mistress of the Inn, The," 45, 

Monbelli, Nikolay, 68, 272, 277 
MoakvitycmAn, 98 
Mother, letter to a, 235 
Muravyov, 297 

N , Alexander Favlovitch, letter 

to, 231 

N , Mile., letter to, 247 

Nabokov, the commandant, 67 

Napoleon, 128, 133 

" Negro of Peter the Great, The," 

189, 221 
Nekrassov, Nioolay Alexeyevitch, 

26, 28, 31, 32, 37, 41, 264, 266, 

267, 268 
Nervous irritability, 50, 319 
" Netotsohka Nesvanova," 45 
Nicholas I., the Tsar, 290, 296, 301, 

Nihilism, 112, 189, 192 
Nisard, the critic, 9 
Nuncio, episode of the Papal, 319 

, Marina, the story of, 311, 

" Observations of a Valet," 29 
Odoyevsky, Prince, 30 
Oldenburg, Prince Peter of, 309, 

Omsk, 58, 59, 63, 290 
"Opium-Eater, Confessions of an 

EngUsh," 262 
Ordynsky, a friend of Dostoevsky, 

Orlov, Prince, 298, 315 
Osmidov, Nikolay Kukitch, letters 

to, 233, 253 
Ostrovsky, 68, 159, 165 
Otetchestvennia ZcupisM, 17, 24, 29, 

31, 34, 41, 49, 64, 69, 98, 108, 

121, 336 
Owen, Eobert, 275 

Pain, 206 

Palm, Alexander, 272, 273 

Parfeny, a monk, 191 

Paris, 127, 137 

" Paroles d'un Croyant," 276 

Patriotism, 85, 151, 166, 174 

Paul I., called "the Prussian," 

157, 191 
Peace Congress, the, at Oeneva, 

Pechechonov, Pyotr Miohailovitch, 


Pererepenko, Ivan IvanoTitch, 16 
Peter the Great, 117, 239 
Peterhourgsky Shornik (Almanac), 

Petrachevsky. See ButacheTitch- 

Pharisees, 43 
"Philosophical Letters" (Tohaa- 

dayev's), 191 
Philosophy, 6 

" Pickwick Papers, The," 285 
Pickwickian humour, 142 
Pissarev, 215 
Pissemsky, 68, 88, 89, 101 
Plechtcheyev, A. N., 272, 299 
Pobyedonoszev, B. P., letter from 

333, 334 
Polevoi's history, 5 
Polonsky, Turgenev's letter to, 335 
" Poor Folk," 17, 19, 21, 23, 26, 33, 

39, 40, 45, 108, 266 
Positivism, 218 
Positivists, 149 
"Possessed, The," 183, 195, 204, 

209, 210, 211, 213, 335 
Prague, 179 

Prescott's " Mexico and Peru," 255 
Prison life, 46 
Prisons, military, 60, 282 
" Prochartsehin, Mr.," 38, 45, 268 
Prokofyev, Kusma Prokofyevitch, 

Proudhon, 275 
Pushkin, 9, 13, 14, 20, 23, 26 n., 28, 

98, 100, 165, 189, 191, 216, 217, 

220, 221, 250, 254, 274, 297 

Bacine, 14 

Banke, 64 

Baphael, 20 

BaskRnikov, first glimpse of, 100 

"Eauber, Die,''254 

Bealists, 158, 167 

Beasou, 7 

" Beineke Fuchs " (Goethe's), 38 

Beprieve, the, 53, 278 

Beschetrokov, 222 

"Bevisor " (Gogol's), 18, 317 

Borne, 109 

Bonsard, 15 

Bossini's " William Tell," 277 

Bousseau, 218 

Boussky Slovo, 99, 103 

BoussJ^ Viestnik, 98, 99, 111, 120, 
127, 136, 137, 153, 156, 160, 162, 
168, 178, 180, 190, 195, 199, 200, 



203, 204, 205, 206, 209, 210, 211, 

"Eussia, On," an article by Dos- 

toevsky, 316 
Russian idea, the, 85, 151, 166, 174, 

216, 258 

Sade, the Marquis de, 336 

Saliubezky, 42 

Saltykov, Turgenev's letters to, 

8a/rya, 156, 159. 162, 168, 172, 

174, 175, 180, 184, 185, 188, 199, 

203, 215 
SassuUtch, Vera, 243 
Sohevirov, 28 

Sohidlovsky, I. N., 5, 8, 11, 12 
Schiller, 11, 12, 13, 16, 22, 25, 254, 

Sohlosser's " Weltgeschiohte," 254 
Schliisselburg, 56 
Schulitchka, a friend of Dostoev- 

sky's, 78 
Scott, Sir Walter, 23, 254 
" Secrets du Palais des Tsars, Les," 

a scandalous work, 152 
Sects, Bussian religious, 157, 158 
Semipalatinsk, 64, 289 
Seneca, 15 
SenkoTsky, 264 
" Sentimental Journey " (Sterne's), 

Sevemaia Ptchela (Northern Bee), 

28, 33, 34, 196 
Sevign^, Madame de, 89 
Shakespeare, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 

51, 52, 100, 255 
Silota, a friend of Dostoevsky's, 

Slavophilism, 85, 151, 166, 174, 216 
Slutohevsky, Turgenev's letter to, 

"Smoke," 121, 123 
Snitkin (" Ammos Schichkin "), 

Socialism, 272, 275 
Sofia Alexandrovna, Dostoevsky's 

niece, letters to, 126, 141, 162, 

159, 168, 176, 193, 198, 201 
Sollogub, Count, 30, 34 
Solovyov, Vladimir, son of the his- 
torian, 247 
Solovyov, Vsevolod, letter to, 227 
Solovyov's Bussian History, 254 
SouliS, 265 
Sovremennik (The Contemporary), 

26 n., 40, 41, 98, 108 

Spiridonov, Military Governor of 

Semipalatinsk, 291, 295 
" Sportsman's Sketches, A," 308 
Spyechnyov, 58, 68 
Stackenschneider, Fran, letters to, 

104, 260 
Stankevitch, 186 
Stellovsky, a publisher, 112, 211, 

Stepauov, Captain, 292 
"Stepanschikovo YiUage," 103, 297 
Sterne, 23 
"Story of the Abolished Public 

Offices, the," 37 
Strachov, Kikolay Nikolayevitch, 

107, 121, 151, 152, 156, 162, 170, 
172, 189, 192, 211, 336 ; letters to, 

108, 165, 174, 184, 186, 196, 209, 
215, 218 

Students, Moscow, letter to a group 

of, 239 
Suboskal (The Scoffer), Nekras- 

sov's Almanac, 27, 28, 31, 32, 

Sue, Eugtee, 25, 28 
Summer in town, 46 

Tchaadayev, Pyotr Takovlevitch, 

Tchernychevsky, 121, 122 
Tchutchev, 228 
Temperature, the Swiss, 138 
" Teverino," 29 
Thierry, 64 
Thiers, 64 

" Three Portraits, The," 221 
Tobolsk, 58, 290 
Tolstoy, 88, 165, 205, 222, 223, 256, 

336, 337 
Totleben, Adolf Ivanovitoh, 95, 

Totleben, General Count Eduard 

Ivanovitoh, 310, 314; letter to, 

" Tourments et Supplioes " (de 

Sade's), 336 
Trediakovsky, 16 
Troizky, Doctor, 286, 287 
Tur, Eugenie, 68 
Turgenev, 30, 32, 62, 88, 102, 120, 

121, 122, 167, 171, 183, 197, 205, 

214, 221, 261, 252. 264. 269, 

308; letters from, 334, 336 
Tyutchev, Fyodor, 89 

" Ugolino," 5 

" Uncle's Dream," 88, 297 



" Undine," 5 
Unrest, feminine, 230 
Ural, crossing tbe, 57 
Utin, 121 

Yeimam, Alexander, 298 

Venice, 178 

Vernet, 21 

Vienna, 179 

Viestnilc Europi, 196 

Vitkovsky, 262 

Vrangel, Baron, 74, 76, 79, 82, 90 ; 

letter to, 96 
Vremya {The Times), 105 

War, 206 

"War and Peace," 165, 169, 186, 

"Whiskers that were Shaved Off, 

The," 37, 38, 89 
Woman, the temperament of a sex, 

Women, Dostoevsky's views on, 

Women-students, 225 
Women-writers, 89 

Yastrchembsky, 55, 56, 58, 68 
Younger generation in Bussia, the, 
240, 271 

Zadonsky, Tikhon, 191